Suggestions that a Chinese ban on the use of CBD in cosmetics that would essentially shut down the domestic CBD market, blocking imports and cross-border online sales, appear to be premature.
The National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) has published a draft notice of a proposed regulation to do so, but this is only an initial step and would require approval from other bodies after consultations with the public and experts.
There is about a week left for public comments on the requirements to list Cannabis sativa fruit, Cannabis sativa leaf extract, Cannabis sativa seed oil and CBD specifically as prohibited ingredients of cosmetics in China. Those interested can email comments to email@example.com before 19th April 2021.
The consultation is expected to receive a large amount of negative feedback from the public and perhaps some officials who see hemp as a lucrative crop that many provinces are attempting to exploit by developing regulatory frameworks that would include cannabinoid extraction and production.
But no matter the result of the consultation, the draft would still be subject to approval by the National Medical Products Administration – a Chinese government ministry that is the parent of the NIFDC – before the ingredients could be added to the catalogue of material prohibited from being used for cosmetic production.
This will be based on the proposal from the NIFDC, taking into account the results of the public consultation as well as the opinions of a committee of experts appointed by the National Medical Products Administration.
No ‘concrete timeline’ available
There is – thus far – no concrete indication of how seriously the proposal is being considered. It is thought to be based on matching availability of cosmetic products with current messaging in drug education initiatives in China. The availability of beauty products with cannabinoids was thought to undermine anti-cannabis drug education messaging.
However, as mentioned, many Chinese provinces see hemp as an important tool for economic development – particularly in some areas that have lagged behind in China’s overall efforts to increase prosperity. This could prove to be a persuasive argument in favour of limiting domestic hemp cannabinoid product production to export only in the one remaining product category in which it is permitted to operate.
There is also no concrete timeline for when any announcement on a decision will take place or when any changes brought about by the announcement would come into force – if an announcement does bring in new changes.
In general, the decision from the administration may take a few months. For reference, in January 2021, the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control also asked for public opinions on several modifications of the current catalogue of materials prohibited from being used for cosmetics production; the period ended on 18th February 2021 and the relevant regulation has not come out yet.
It is also unclear if the ban, if theoretically decided and published, would come into effect immediately or if there would be some time for people to prepare before it would take effect.
– Rui Feng CBD-Intel staff