A new cafe has opened in Hong Kong that gets around the territory’s cannabis ban by offering products that contain a part of the cannabis plant that doesn’t break the law.
Found Cafe is the first foods or drink outlet in Hong Kong to offer a range of coffees, biscuits, beer and fruit juices that contain cannabidiol, or CBD.
The substance comes from the cannabis plant and is said to offer therapeutic effects without getting users intoxicated.
The cafe gets around the laws banning cannabis because none of the products contain THC – the psychoactive element that can cause a ‘high’.
Fiachra Mullen, co-founder of Altum Asia Limited, which set up Found Cafe, said: “Hong Kong is actually one of Asia’s most progressive cannabinoid markets.
“Unlike other parts of the region – Australia, New Zealand, Singapore – it’s actually quite a progressive cannabinoid law in Hong Kong, so we can sell most cannabinoids in Hong Kong as foods as long as we don’t have any THC in the products.”
CBD is only legal in Hong Kong if it contains 0% trace of THC (Tethrahydrocannabinol).
But the food and drink on offer doesn’t come cheap.
At Found Cafe, a bottle of cold CBD-infused coffee costs HK$80 (around £8), can of CBD beer costs HK$70 (£7) and a CBD-infused mooncake costs HK$38 (£3.80).
So far, Found Cafe does not yet have permission to sell freshly made food and drink, only packaged products, but the cafe expects to be fully operational in October.
CBD is not classified as a dangerous drug under Hong Kong law but remains illegal in many countries around the world.
It is legal in the UK, so long as it meets the Exempted Product Criteria in Regulation 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.
The Home Office adds, however, that “it is very difficult to isolate pure CBD”, so “against this background, the presumption has to be… that a CBD containing product would be controlled“.
The Food Standards Agency says CBD extracts are being sold in food and as food supplements in the UK, and are “widely available”, but it requires vendors to obtain a Novel Food Authorisation before it can be sold.
A Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment report recommended earlier this year that a healthy 70kg adult should consume no more than 4mg a day.