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What is CBD? Is CBD Legal in Hong Kong

What is CBD? Is CBD Legal in Hong Kong

What is CBD?

The cannabis plant is made up of hundreds of different cannabinoids. CBD is one of the most renowned cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and is extracted from cannabis sativa; from the stems, stalks and leaves of the plant. It exists in several forms, such as waxes, crystals and isolates, however, to date, cannabidiol oil, is the most popular form. Cannabidiol oil is more commonly referred to as CBD oil and is widely available throughout the world.   

Research into the medicinal values of CBD has increased in recent years with mounting evidence to support CBD as an effective therapeutic for alleviating chronic pain1, inflammation2, muscle ache, and various skin conditions3. It can also be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety, as well as regulating sleep patterns4. CBD has also recently emerged as a promising therapeutic for alleviating cancer-related symptoms2.

How does CBD differ from Marijuana?

The key difference between CBD and marijuana, is that marijuana is psychoactive. This is due to the psychoactive chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), found in the hemp plant or cannabis sativa. THC is responsible for the high that individuals experience when smoking or consuming marijuana. THC is available in oil form; however, it is a controlled substance in the majority of countries and, at present, it is not legal in Hong Kong.

CBD oil differs from THC oil in that it is extracted from the leaves, stems, and stalks of the cannabis sativa plant, whereas, THC is predominantly synthesized in the flowering part of the plant. Thus, THC is extracted from the flowers. It is possible to extract CBD from all areas of the plant, however, the flowering parts are excluded to ensure the THC content is minimal or nonexistent. In Hong Kong, CBD oil with nominal or nonexistent THC is a legal substance and all products on sale must be tested by third party laboratories.   

What are the main uses of CBD?

CBD oil is predominantly used to relieve pain. It is a natural remedy and has been proven beneficial for the management of pain related to sports injury, chronic disease, and terminal conditions. CBD oil is also commonly used to ease short term pain. Several studies have shown CBD to regulate symptoms associated with anxiety, stress and depression. Individuals suffering with such conditions are often recommended to use cannabidiol4. There is evidence to suggest CBD has anti-cancer properties, however, further research is required to fully elucidate the role of CBD in cancer development. CBD may also inhibit tumour growth5, with the oil commonly used by cancer patients and other individuals for relaxation and rejuvenation therapy.

Cannabidiol has certain neuro-protective properties, making it an ideal treatment for acne and other skin conditions3. It is important to note that these neuro-protective properties are not the same as the psychoactive substance THC which leads to intoxication. CBD products do not carry any intoxicating effects. CBD oil can maintain or improve cardiovascular health and has been proposed as a strong candidate in the prevention of heart disease6. CBD is anti-psychotic meaning it can aid in preventing substance abuse, can regulate blood sugar levels and sleep patterns4.

Who is CBD oil suitable for?

CBD oil is safe to use for most adults and can be used recreationally, however, its medical applications are the main reasons why people purchase CBD oil. The FDA advises against the use of CBD in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding7. CBD oil is not typically recommended for children or minors, although, it can be administered under the supervision of doctors or parents for strictly medicinal or therapeutic purposes.

What are the most popular CBD products?

CBD oil is the most commonly used form of cannabidiol. For novel cannabidiol users, CBD oil is often recommended as this is less potent than other forms, such as, patches, CBD sprays and cosmetics. Individuals are not advised to use or ingest CBD oil without first obtaining consultation or supervision from a doctor and CBD oils should be administered through topical applications only.

Varying concentrations of CBD oil are available and often the more concentrated the oil, the more expensive the product. However, it is crucial to note, the effects of cannabidiol is not always reliant on the potency. Ensuring the CBD is reasonably sourced and that the product is pure is extremely important, thus, when purchasing CBD oil, always look for credible brands and their bestselling CBD oils.

Side Effects caused by CBD

Based on current knowledge, CBD is safe for use and does not pose any risk to health with short-term or long-term use. However, as previously mentioned, no CBD product should be used or ingested without first seeking recommendation and supervision of a medical professional. Some people experience mild side effects when using CBD oil. A common side effect is changes in appetite. Some individuals have also reported fatigue; however, this tends to be experienced by people who are also using strong medications. Few people also experience diarrhea as an adverse effect of cannabidiol use.

CBD Oil Availability in Hong Kong

Rules and regulations for marijuana do not apply to cannabidiol or CBD products. In Hong Kong, it is illegal to consume, possess or deal in marijuana. Marijuana or THC can be prescribed for strictly medicinal purposes; however, this is extremely rare.

According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138, Laws of Hong Kong), all pharmaceutical products containing Cannabidiol (CBD) require registration with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Department of Health (DoH) in line with the requirements before it can be sold or distributed. A relevant license from the Board must be held by all CBD manufacturers, importers or distributors.

DoH is the legal authority to ascertain the control status of any pharmaceutical products and to administer the licensing control of such products. For any questions regarding the importation of any product which may involve pharmaceutical products and medicine, we advise contacting the DoH directly.  

Written by Roxanne Fraser, MSc

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