CBD products at risk of ban in Hong Kong this year, companies face precarious future
19 Aug 2022 --- The Government of Hong Kong is pushing for the prohibition of cannabidiol (CBD) – a relaxant natural compound sourced from cannabis – in personal care and nutritional products, including any topical or ingestible forms, via a legislation. In June, it warned that “upon its commencement, CBD will become a dangerous drug in Hong Kong.”
“The legislature and the public support this proposal in general. In this relation, an online briefing session on the legislative proposal was held on 27 June 2022. More than 100 representatives from the medical, social welfare, education, logistics, industrial and commercial sectors, as well as parents registered to join the session and most of the attendees did not object to the proposal,” a spokesman from the Hong Kong Narcotics Division, Security Bureau, tells PersonalCareInsights
Through the proposal, the Narcotics Division, Security Bureau say that one of its next steps is to allow a “reasonable time (e.g. three months)” for the industry to dispose of the products before the amendment comes into force this year.
Breaching the law
Meanwhile, law enforcement will continue to act against CBD products and be tested for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive compound in cannabis – if suspected.
“More and more CBD products are offered in Hong Kong in recent years,” adds the spokesman.
“There are quite a lot of concerns from the public over their safety and the legality of the sale and use of such products in Hong Kong. The proposed legislation would be able to address this by making it beyond doubt that CBD is classified as a dangerous drug along with cannabis and THC in Hong Kong and the sale and possession of CBD products (including, but not limited to, beauty products containing CBD) would be illegal upon the enactment of the legislation.”
They continue saying that in the future, visitors bringing CBD products into Hong Kong would breach the law and be liable to penalty upon conviction.
“The manufacture, import, export, supply, sale, possession, transshipment, etc. of CBD, including any products containing CBD, will be prohibited unless in accordance with Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (DDO) (e.g., use of medicine according to prescription) or a license issued by the Department of Health where appropriate.”
In a report, the US Department of Agriculture noted that the eligibility of CBD products in the Hong Kong market has always been ambiguous. However, the country maintains a strict zero-tolerance policy for THC, cannabis and cannabis resin – which are serious criminal offenses.
Possession and consumption of the substances can be subject to seven years imprisonment and HK$1 million (US$127,453).
THC too close to CBD?
Traces of THC can be found in CBD depending on the levels of purification, even if products are labeled THC-free.
“Typical CBD isolates used in the production of CBD products contain 0.02-0.03% of THC, while high-end commercially available CBD isolates contain lower amounts of THC, at 0.005-0.007%,” outlines the Government Laboratory in the proposal.
Thus, it is inevitable that CBD products contain levels of THC, according to the proposal. The legislation reveals that in the first four months of 2022, CBD products submitted to the Hong Kong Police Force and Customs and Excise Department to the Government Laboratory contained 42.5% THC.
Moreover, it continues to show that when CBD interacts with moisture and air, it can decompose into THC “even under normal storage conditions.”
According to the document, there is a high risk of converting CBD into THC, up to 82% via a chemical process or when adding CBD to e-cigarettes.
No international regulation
The proposal also outlines that CBD-containing products do not carry authoritative conclusions.
For instance, many “food, health supplements, skincare and beauty products” claim to provide health benefits. However, there is no authority over the claims.
“Internationally, there has been no standard practice on whether and how CBD in different non-pharmaceutical products such as food, supplements, cosmetics and skin care products should be regulated.”
Law enforcement agencies previously launched operations to seize and test products claiming to contain CBD, says Tang Ping-Keung, Secretary for Security in a Legislative Council in February.
“Since 2019, nearly 120 operations have been carried out at such locations as restaurants, shops, boundary control points, warehouses, etc. Products include food, health supplements, oral oil, e-cigarette oil or additives, skincare products, personal care products (e.g., toothpaste, bath balls), massage products, pet food, etc.”
Such products were then sent to the Government Laboratory, and more than 3,800 of them were found to contain THC.
CBD opens ways
Although CBD is increasingly being controlled in Hong Kong, Japan has taken steps to legalize medical marijuana, which shows potential for opening the CBD industry in Asia. This is motivated by a demand for stress-relieving products.
Kadenwood previously identified that topicality in CBD products is a significant trend. “Ingestibles are still not sold in major retailers, and there are challenges to advertising and promoting ingestible CBD. Therefore, larger CBD companies are prioritizing topical products.”
In July, CBD Move Free partnered with carbon-neutral and ingredient provider Novvi to create a line of CBD relief products featuring Novvi’s plant-based oils and moisturizing emollients Luxtra. In March, Sunshine Botanicals unveiled its full-spectrum CBD-containing Soothing Skin Butter to alleviate dry, inflamed and damaged skin conditions.
Earlier this year, Evonik and Demetrix partnered to increase the CBD presence in personal care markets.
By Venya Patel
This feature is provided by NutritionInsight’s sister website, PersonalCareInsights.
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