CBD products have experienced a surge in popularity in the West over the last four years. However, it now looks like it could be Asia’s turn to experience rapid growth in its CBD markets.
While CBD products remain restricted in many parts of Asia, the laws seem to be changing and becoming more favorable in some regions. In addition, attitudes among the public also seem to be shifting, and the stigma surrounding CBD-related products is gradually fading.
Today, we’ll look at the countries and regions in Asia that look most promising and why they will likely drive the rise of the CBD market in Asia.
Many of the locations we list today, such as Hong Kong and Japan, already allow CBD products to be bought and used legally and freely. Others have some restrictions in place but are moving in a positive direction in terms of CBD adoption. Let’s get started.
Cannabis originated in Asia and was used in textiles, medicines, and more for centuries. However, despite this history and tradition, cannabis was widely banned in Asia following the global outlawing of it as a narcotic in the 20th century.
Despite the availability of hemp and CBD products containing virtually no THC, most Asian countries do not differentiate them from other forms of cannabis and put them in the same category, hence there’s stigma associated with even CBD products compliant with local regulations.
However, now that there is a growing amount of scientific research emerging on the potential health and other benefits of CBD, attitudes have started to change worldwide, including in parts of Asia.
In addition, some Asian countries are seeing CBD’s economic potential, causing lawmakers to rethink their approach. This is likely spurred on by the fact that the highly developed CBD market in the USA is worth billions of dollars alone.
And finally, as people in Asia become more knowledgeable on what CBD really is and how it could help them, they are naturally calling for restrictions to be eased. Whether it’s medical use, beauty, and cosmetics, or pet CBD products, there are many reasons why Asian consumers would like greater access to CBD products.
While the laws and regulations vary from one jurisdiction to the next in Asia and can change quickly, certain regions look set to be the main growth drivers.
These areas include Hong Kong, Japan, India, and Thailand. Let’s look at each in more detail and explain why they look most promising.
Hong Kong has different regulations surrounding CBD due to its special administrative status. In Hong Kong, all types of CBD products are legal, including edibles, cosmetics, pet products, and more. However, they must not contain any THC, so CBD-isolate is the preferred and safest raw ingredient to use in CBD products in Hong Kong.
In addition, hemp cultivation is still not legal in Hong Kong, so CBD products compliant with local regulations are imported into the area. This means Hong Kong presents a good opportunity for Western brands wanting to expand into Asia.
People in Hong Kong and China have traditionally used natural remedies for skincare, pain relief, and other common health issues. This connection to herbal remedies means people in Hong Kong are more open to buying and trying CBD products.
The CBD industry is already starting to take off in Hong Kong, with the presence of brick-and-mortar CBD retail stores, conferences and events, and online CBD eCommerce platforms.
CBD products are also legal in Japan, but they must not contain any THC. Growing hemp is also allowed if a business obtains a license. Like other parts of Asia, Japan has a long history of hemp cultivation and use.
Attitudes are also changing, as many in the country now believe it’s time to relook at how the cannabis plant can be used in beneficial ways rather than solely label it as an illicit drug.
The number of people using CBD in Japan is rising, and the market is maturing. You can easily purchase CBD products online or in retail stores in most cities. You even have CBD coffee shops popping up and some prominent brands emerging, like HealthyTokyo.
The CBD market in Japan is forecasted to be worth more than USD2 billion by 2024.
Hemp has been a traditional medicine in India for centuries, forming part of the Indian Ayurvedic system. However, there is still some social stigma surrounding the cannabis plant and CBD products nowadays.
Nonetheless, CBD containing less than 0.3% THC is legal to use in India because it’s extracted from the leaves and not the flower of the cannabis plant.
India presents a huge market opportunity, and if there was greater clarity regarding the rules and regulations, it could really take off as a market. India’s CBD market is forecast to be worth USD555 million by 2024.
Despite Thailand having some of the strictest drug laws, it has recently changed its attitude towards CBD and cannabis. As a result, you can now buy CBD legally in Thailand, and the market is quickly growing in size.
Thailand has already removed certain parts of the cannabis plant from its narcotics list, including the leaves, stems, and roots, making them legal to use. Next year, the Ministry of Public Health will push for the legalization of all parts of the cannabis plant, but they must contain low levels of THC.
This means hemp’s full use and commercialisation will be able to proceed, and all CBD products, including oils, cosmetics, and supplements, will be legal. The CBD market in Thailand is forecast to be worth USD671 million by 2024.