27th June 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Narcotics Division (ND) of the Security Bureau held an online briefing session on controlling cannabidiol (CBD) by legislation today. More than 100 representatives from the medical, social welfare, education, logistics, industrial and commercial sectors, and parents registered to join the event.
The Government submitted a proposal for controlling CBD through legislation to the Legislative Council Panel on Security on 7th June. Members of the Panel welcomed legislation in general. The ND held the online briefing session this afternoon to further explain the content of and justifications for legislation.
At the briefing session, the Commissioner for Narcotics, Mr Kesson Lee, said that the Government has been striving to combat drugs, including strictly controlling tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a dangerous drug originating from cannabis plants and is a psychoactive substance. CBD is normally extracted from cannabis plants, and various types of CBD products in the market would likely contain THC. It is thus the Government’s responsibility to enhance control of CBD to safeguard public health. This approach is more suitable for the situation in Hong Kong, and meets the public’s expectations.
“The Government’s proposal is based on science. There are some views suggesting that tests may be carried out for CBD products to ensure that they do not contain any drugs. However, due to its nature, CBD may naturally decompose into THC under normal storage conditions, or may even be converted into THC, which is a dangerous drug. As such, relying on tests will not effectively protect public health, but will easily be exploited to provide a conduit for the inflow of THC. Strictly controlling CBD under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance is in line with our policy. The ND will continue to step up publicity for the harm caused by cannabis abuse and remind the public that ‘Cannabis is a drug’.”
The Chairman of the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN), Dr Donald Li, said that the public might harbour a misguided perception that cannabis is not a drug when they find that CBD products are widely available in the market. He continued, “According to the advice of toxicology experts from the Government Laboratory, trace amounts of THC may already cause adverse reactions in human bodies. The consequence of long-term intake of trace-amounts of THC is also unknown. The ACAN supports the Government in enhancing the control of CBD through legislation so as to protect public health and combat drugs.” Dr Li also noted that there has been no authoritative scientific evidence on the claimed health benefits of CBD products. He called on members of the public to be smart consumers and not to use such products.
The Assistant Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Mark Woo, shared the relevant law enforcement situation. He said, “Law enforcement agencies have been proactively taking CBD products suspected to contain THC for testing. For products sent to the Government Laboratory for which testing has been completed, around one-third of the samples were found to contain THC, involving more than 4 100 products taken, including food, drinks, oral oil, skin care products, etc. When the legislation for controlling CBD comes into effect, CBD will become a dangerous drug. Law enforcement agencies will enforce the law rigorously.”
At the briefing session, the Deputy Executive Director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Mr Wilson Chan, said that cannabis remained the main drug taken by young people. Apparently, there is a misconception about cannabis among some young people. The large number of CBD products in the market highlighting their benefits would also lower the public’s (especially young people’s) guard against cannabis. Mr Chan said, “Frontline social workers have already handled cases where youngsters first started using CBD products and then tried cannabis and got addicted.” He supports the control of CBD through legislation.
In addition, the Senior Superintendent of the Police’s Narcotics Bureau, Mr Terry Cheung, and a participant in the “Leadership Institute on Narcotics” shared youngsters’ views on CBD.