Updated: Nov 24, 2020
China's policy and regulations on CBD.
First, let’s get some terms correct. People often use the words “cannabis and “marijuana” interchangeably, however, they are not the same thing. The word “cannabis” refers to all the products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. The cannabis plant contains about 540 chemical substances called cannabinoids. The main components of interest in cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The word “marijuana” refers to the parts or of products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of THC. THC is the principle constituent that is psychoactive causing the sensation of being high. CBD, also extracted from cannabis plants, is commonly extracted from different parts of the cannabis or from a different variety of cannabis called hemp plants. Basically, hemp plants contain more CBD while cannabis plants contain more THC. The term “hemp” or "industrial hemp" as stated in Article 2 of the Industrial Hemp Cultivation and Processing Licensing Regulation of Yunnan Province, China, refers to raw plants of the genus Cannabis and products derived from them with a content of less than 0.3 per cent (dry matter percentage by weight) of THC .
The cultivation and processing of industrial hemp is permitted in some parts of China but highly regulated. In 2009, Yunnan Province promulgated the Regulation on Permits for the Cultivation and Processing of Industrial Hemp. This allowed organizations or individuals to engage in the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp, only after obtaining an industrial hemp cultivation permit and an industrial hemp processing permit. The regulation applies to industrial hemp with a THC content of less than 0.3 percent; if the THC content of products extracted from the flowers and leaves of industrial hemp is higher than 0.3 percent, the Regulations on the Administration of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and other relevant drug control laws and regulations are applied.
Although the THC content of the whole plant of industrial hemp is below 0.3 percent when extracting CBD, some processes use young leaves and buds with a high content of active cannabinoids and the THC content produced during the extraction process may exceed 0.3 percent. Therefore, those cultivating industrial hemp varieties for the purpose of extracting CBD still need approval from authorities regulating Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances prior to production.
CBD import and export from China
In the "Catalogue of Psychotropic Drugs (2013 Edition)" published by the Food and Drug Administration, the Ministry of Public Security, and the National Health and Family Planning Commission, CBD is an isomer of THC according to stereochemical conclusions. Although CBD does not have enough THC in it to be psychoactive, as an isomer of THC, it is still regulated like THC. Under the supervisory conditions of the General Administration of Customs on THC and its isomers, with the commodity code of 2932950000, when importing and exporting CBD, a permit for the import or export of psychotropic substances needs to be provided. Article 45 of the Drug Administration Law of the People's Republic of China "The import and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic drugs within the scope of state regulations must be accompanied by an Import Permit and Export Permit issued by the Drug Administration under the State Council." Thus, Chinese enterprises must apply to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) for an import/export permit as it relates to psychotropic drugs.
CBD does not have the same restriction as other psychotropic substances, such as THC, however, the approval for cultivation, processing, and export of this cannabinoid require Chinese entities to adhere to the same regulatory bodies in China as if it were a drug or drug-like substance.