Hong Kong will ban cannabidiol, or CBD, from February, adding the cannabis compound to a criminalised list of drugs including heroin and cocaine.
The government announced on Thursday that the legislative amendment would be brought to the Legislative Council next Wednesday.
The ban – which will see the addition of CBD to the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance – will come into effect on February 1 next year. CBD will join over 200 substances listed in the ordinance, among them fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, ketamine and methamphetamine.
While CBD is not psychoactive, authorities say it is inseparable from tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound responsible for the high produced by taking cannabis and which is illegal in Hong Kong. Supporters of CBD have argued that the small amount of THC found in CBD products would not be sufficient to produce its associated effects.
The government has also said CBD can decompose and be converted into THC.
With its criminalisation, the trafficking and manufacturing of CBD will be subject to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine. Possession and consumption of CBD will be subject to up to seven years’ imprisonment and a HK$1 million fine.
The Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau consulted representatives from the medical, social welfare and commercial sectors on the proposed ban in June, with a majority supportive of prohibition.