Overseas marijuana component oil sold on Chinese online retailer

By Chi Jingyi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/3 16:09:17

Cartridges of cannabidiol (CBD)-rich hemp oil for medical use are displayed during the International Cannabis Association Convention in New York, October 12, 2014. Photo: VCG

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a main extract of marijuana which is popular in the European and US markets, is being sold as health products on several Chinese e-commerce platforms including Taobao, jd.com and pinduoduo. 

In countries where marijuana is legal, the product is listed as a psychoactive drug.

Pinduoduo confirmed with the Global Times on Tuesday that it had removed all CBD products from its platform, but they are still available on Taobao and jd.com.

More than 20 shops appear on Taobao when "CBD" is typed into the search bar. Monthly figures differ from 10 to 400 sales for a single product.

A 1-gram bottle of medicine in the shop on Taobao has more than 200 reviews. Many customer reviews show that they have made multiple purchases, with nearly half taking it daily.

The oil's product description shows that the addictive ingredient - tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the hallucinogenic component of marijuana - has been removed.

A customer service representative from a shop on Taobao told the Global Times on Tuesday that the product is safe and has no side effects. He was vague about whether or not this product is a psychotropic drug, or if it needs a doctor's advice to be taken. 

"A lot of customers said that after use, the effect used to treat insomnia is very good," said the service representative.

CBD is not a controlled drug in China because of its lack of psychoactive activity, and it is not included in the international drug control convention schedule or the Chinese list of narcotic drugs, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

There's no clear guidance on the sale of CBD in the Chinese market, and experts have warned of the problems caused by a lack of regulations, as CBD products in the market are not guaranteed to be free of THC. 

Drug control laws and regulations shall apply to products containing more than 0.3 percent THC in China, according to Chinese law. 

"CBD oil that has more than 0.3 percent THC is strictly controlled in accordance with national laws and regulations. Any business that violates the law will be punished by Taobao and reported to law enforcement departments," an Alibaba corporate spokesperson told the Global Times.

All the products are imported from the US, where CBD oil is seen as a psychoactive drug, according to their introduction page.

It is not possible to see if the sellers have a license from customs for drug imports and exports. Despite this, import and export licenses for psychotropic drugs should be provided when importing or exporting CBD, in accordance with the regulatory requirements of the General Administration of Customs.


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