Is CBD Legal in Hong Kong? All Your CBD Questions, Answered

6 Mins Read

Local entrepreneur Denise Tam is the Co-Founder of Hong Kong’s premier CBD beauty & wellness destination Heavens Please and from where we’re sitting, no one in town is as well versed on CBD as she is. Since CBD Wellness is absolutely exploding across the globe, we sat down with Denise and drilled her on ALL our CBD questions like what the heck is it exactly? Will it make us high? Can anyone take CBD? And is it even legal in Hong Kong? So. Many. Questions.

Below is Part 1 of our fascinating and highly informative interview. Don’t forget to read Part 2.

What Exactly Is CBD?

CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound found in the hemp plant known as a phytocannabinoid. While there are over 100 phytocannabinoids, only one is psychoactive, that would be THC, aka tetrahydrocannabinol, aka the one that makes you high. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and has even been shown to be counteractive to THC’s psychological effects.

CBD has a wide range of therapeutic properties including anti-inflammation, anti-oxidant, neuroprotective, pain management, sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression. Extensive scientific researches also show that CBD can benefit patients who are suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and cancer.

CBD is extracted from the whole hemp plant (flower & leaves) and is most commonly available in drops, tincture or vape form, which basically means in oil form and which is why you have probably heard people talk about CBD oil.

CBD vs. Hemp Oil: What’s The Difference?

Hemp oil is different from CBD oil. Hemp oil, most commonly known as hemp seed oil, does not contain CBD or THC. While it does come from the hemp plant, hemp oil is extracted only from the seeds, whereas CBD is a chemical compound extracted from the whole plant (see above). Highly nutritious and a great source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, hemp oil is generally used in food as a salad dressing and in skincare/ cosmetic products for its moisturising properties.

Hemp is in the cannabis family, the difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD level. Marijuana bred for recreational use usually has high THC content (up to 20%), which makes it psychoactive, hemp has a generally low THC amount (under 1%).

Does CBD Contain THC?

There are three types of CBD:

  • Full Spectrum CBD, which can contain a trace amount of THC (0.2 ~ 1% depending on its origin) since all other compounds extracted from the plant are included.
  • Broad Spectrum CBD, which contains NO THC but does contain other compounds; and
  • CBD Isolate, which contains only CBD, meaning just one single compound.

Ideally, this information should be provided on a product label, but the reality is that many CBD products today are marketed as dietary supplements, which means they are not regulated rigorously and the labelling requirements are still fairly opaque. As a consumer, it can be confusing when buying a product, which is why it is important to purchase CBD products from a store/brand you trust, preferably one where you can ask questions. A reputable seller will happily provide lab reports on demand which indicate the cannabinoid contents and percentages.

In general, look out for words like CBD/ Cannabidiol/ Cannabinoid Extract/ Hemp CBD/ Cannabis Sativa Extract/ CBD Isolate when you are looking to purchase a CBD product.

Is CBD Safe?

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD is deemed a safe, non-toxic and non-addictive substance. Here’s what they have to say: CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”

CBD has few known side effects and when they occur, they are typically minor and non-threatening. A recent report by the National Cancer Institute – a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – notes that overdosing on CBD is virtually impossible, and the same is true of THC and marijuana. Per the report: “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”

Is CBD Legal in Hong Kong?

CBD is legal in Hong Kong. According to several official government press announcements, CBD (cannabidiol) is not classified as a dangerous drug and is therefore not controlled under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.

It’s important to note that THC and its derivatives are illegal in Hong Kong and anything containing these substances is prohibited. When purchasing CBD products, it is important to look at labels or ask the seller to make sure you are purchasing Broad Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate-based products to avoid unintentionally breaching the law.

Can I Travel With CBD?

Travelling with CBD is possible, but it also depends on your final destination and which type of CBD product-base you are carrying so it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the allowed percentages. For example, the US allow a THC level under 0.3%, the UK and most EU countries under 0.2%), Japan (like Hong Kong) is at 0%. However, some Asian countries, like Taiwan and Thailand, classify CBD as a regulated medication- only 1-2 months supply are tolerated. In Singapore, CBD is prohibited by law.

Travelling with CBD can definitely be complicated, due to the largely controversial history of cannabis, so to be safe, always check local laws before deciding to bring any CBD products with you.

How Will CBD Make Me Feel?

Since CBD is not psychoactive, you won’t get a strong feeling from it, it’s more of a subtle effect to balance the imbalances that exist within your body. The calming effects tend to more noticeable if you are experiencing anxiety or depression. If you suffer from chronic pain, you are likely to feel quick relief thanks to CBD strong pain-relieving properties.

How Does CBD Work?

The Endocannabinoid System exists in all mammals, including humans and animals (this include our pets). It plays a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience. In other words, the system is a master regulator for all other systems of the body. The research on cannabis led to the discovery of this previously unknown biochemical communication system in our body and the discovery of receptors that respond to cannabis, as well as the identification of the endogenous cannabinoids released in our own bodies that bind to these receptors. This binding brings on therapeutic effects, and ingesting CBD can activate the receptors to boosting signalling, making it safer than most pharmaceutical drugs on the market when treating anxiety or other conditions.

Can Everyone Benefit From CBD?

Absolutely! Since CBD is non-intoxicating and proffers relatively few known side effects (dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, change in appetite, drowsiness), it is safe for all ages. There are known cases of parents using CBD to help treat epilepsy in their child or elderly people using it to alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms. CBD is ideal for anyone who does not want to experience the psychoactive effects of THC but enjoys the therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant.

Pre-clinical research indicates that CBD has potent anti-tumoral, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. CBD directly activates serotonin receptors, causing an anti-anxiety effect. People who are dealing with the following health conditions may benefit from CBD usage: Anxiety/ Stress/ Depression/ Sleep disorders/ Pain/ Inflammation/ Acne/ Addiction/ Muscle spasms & Epilepsy.

Keep in mind that ingesting CBD can interact with certain medications that metabolise through the liver. Make sure to check with your GP/Family Doctor how best to proceed. Infants and pregnant women are not recommended to ingest CBD as there isn’t enough research on its effects on fetus development.

Thinking of dosing your cat/ dog with CBD? Why not! CBD is safe for humans and for your beloved pet. They have an ECS system inside their body just like we do, and CBD works the same way on them as it does on us. Just make sure to adjust the dose depending on their body size (and check with your vet to be sure).

Next Up – Part 2: How Does Dosing Work? Plus: Denise Share Her Top CBD Brands & Why She Loves Them.

Have more specific questions about CBD? Denise can help! Contact her at

Lead CBD photo courtesy of Unsplash.


  • Sonalie Figueiras

    2021 Women of Power, 2019 GEN T Honoree, V Label Global Hero, 2 x TEDx Speaker: Serial social entrepreneur & trends forecaster Sonalie Figueiras is a sustainability expert, food futurist and eco-powerhouse who has been inspiring global audiences for over a decade with practical steps on how to fight climate change. Known as the Green Queen of Asia, she is the founder and Editor in Chief of the award-winning Green Queen - the region’s first impact media platform that educates millions of readers on the connection between health, sustainability and the environment and showcases future solutions. She is also the co-founder and CEO of organic sourcing platform Ekowarehouse and climate tech SaaS Source Green, which helps consumer brands quit plastic packaging thanks to proprietary plastic reduction software. In addition, Sonalie is a global keynote speaker and an advisor to multiple mission-driven startups and NGOs, and a venture partner to several VC funds.

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