Canada Steps Up to Stop Cannabis From Being Smuggled into Hong Kong

After accusations that a spike in the amount of cannabis being smuggled into Hong Kong was coming from Canada, the two nations have come together to tackle the issue.

Already, in the first half of 2019, seizures of illegal cannabis products at the Hong Kong border has nearly matched the annual total for the previous year. And nearly a third of it appears to have come from Canada.

While Hong Kong's Customs Commissioner Hermes Tang Yi-hoi said not all of the cannabis confiscated was brought over with the intent of trafficking, much of it is. He believes smugglers have taken advantage of Canada's cannabis legalization as a safe means to increase the amount of marijuana they can bring into the country.

"Some travelers bought cannabis as a souvenir for fun, while drug syndicates are also making use of the new legislation to smuggle cannabis into Hong Kong and expand their market in the city," Tang told the South China Morning Post. "We found more drugs parcels lately as smugglers saw lower risk by this means."

Tang said he brought up the issue during the World Customs Organization meeting in Brussels last week, where Canadian customs officials agreed to work with Tang to curb the issue.

"After we voiced our concerns at the meeting, the Canadian customs chief had agreed to step up intelligence exchange with us, especially on particular targeted syndicates, so as to confront the problem at the source."

Hong Kong customs officials are also reminding people that if they are traveling to places where cannabis has been legalized, they can't bring any marijuana products back to Hong Kong.

"They must also note that any illicit import of cannabis or any products that contains controlled cannabinoids such as THC constitutes a criminal offense under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance," explained a Hong Kong customs spokesperson. "Ignorance is not an excuse and prosecution will be initiated when evidence justifies."

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In the past few months, the stream of alarming news about the dangers of vaporizer cartridges has put some cannabis consumers on high alert. Since March, more than 2,000 people have gotten sick, and 40 people have died from illnesses related to vaping (VAPI, or vaping associated pulmonary injury). It is believed that the large majority of those who had become ill had used THC oil carts bought from illicit markets.

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