CBD Legal in Asia


CBD use in Skincare is increasingly popular all over the world. The markets in the US & Europe are the most established but Asia has a growing interest.

I am increasingly coming across CBD brands who are interested in expanding in Asia so I thought I would put this overview together to see what is possible in which markets currently.

Is CBD legal in Asia?

For those who want to know more about CBD in Skincare and it’s benefits skip to the bottom of this article. For CBD brands see the details of the regulations below:

CBD in Asia – is it legal?

This varies in each market varying from completely banned in certain markets like Singapore and Indonesia to much more open in Hong Kong and Japan. Most markets are looking at THC quantity to decide legality so products with 0% THC have much better chance of expansion in Asia.

Each key market is outlined below with the detailed regulations:

Countries where CBD is legal in Cosmetics


China is now a big producer of Hemp. Aiming to lead the production and supply the globe in the next 10 years. Three provinces currently produce hemp – Yunnan, Heilongjiang and Jilin.

CBD is legal in China for cosmetics (topical use) but not for food or health food. It is not on the list of narcotic drugs.

There are three derived ingredients that are allowed – cannabis Sativa fruit, cannabis Sativa seed oil, and cannabis Sativa leaf extract. All products must have a THC limit of 0.3%.

Hong Kong

Growing Hemp is illegal in Hong Kong unlike mainland China where they are encouraging it. The penalty for growing any plant of the Cannabis genus is a hefty fine or imprisonment.

However for cosmetics CBD is legal as long as its THC content is equal to zero.

The government’s Centre for Food Safety confirmed that CBD is not a dangerous drug. But the CBD must not contain any THC.


In Japan, CBD is legal as long as it doesn’t contain any THC and comes from hemp. The Japanese Cannabis Law defines cannabis as the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.) and its products. The definition does not include mature cannabis stems and their products (excluding resin), and cannabis seeds and their products.

Growing Hemp is legal in Japan under certain circumstances.

Countries where CBD is legal for medical use

South Korea

Hemp is one of the oldest crops in South Korea, and its cultivation is legal as long as it’s used for fiber and seed (protein powder, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed nut).

CBD in South Korea is legal only for medical use.


The Malaysian government allows hemp production for research but onlly fiber and seeds. Growing hemp for medical or commercial purposes is forbidden.

Government-licensed retailers and companies are allowed to sell CBD after their products pass through a series of strict trials and fulfill the legal criteria.


Cannabis and its derivatives are strictly prohibited in the Philippines.

However there is an exception if individuals suffering from a terminal illness can apply for a special permit to use cannabis-based drugs (including CBD oil). Very few people have applied for this application due to the stigma attached.


In 2017, Taiwan decided to legalize CBD for medical use. The CBD product is only for patients who have Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. And it mustn’t contain more than 0.0001% THC.


CBD in Thailand is legal for medical use through a doctor’s prescription but must be free from THC.

Countries in Asia that ban CBD


Singapore is not surprisingly very strict on Cannabis and carry heavy fines and harsh punishments. There have been some wide recognition that Cannabinoids are useful for patients with seizures and epilepsy.


Indonesia is one of the most conservative countries in Asia. Cannabishas been banned since 1927 and all of its derivatives are illegal.


Asia is still pretty restricted when it comes to CBD Beauty products but as consumers hear and see the benefits of CBD for themselves the outdated laws in many countries may change. For now if you are a CBD skincare company and your products are THC free consider Hong Kong, Japan and possibly Cross border into China.


Is CBD legal in Asia

What is CBD?

There are two types of CBD

Hemp CBD & Cannabis CBD. Hemp plants contain more CBD and Cannabis plants contain more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound that causes the ‘high’ that people associate with cannabis use. Hemp plants do contain THC but at very low levels

Hemp and cannabis are two different varieties of the C. sativa plant with hemp containing more CBD and minimal THC.

Most CBD products are made from hemp plants as they contain far more CBD and almost no THC.

NB: Hemp seed oil does not contain any CBD and is not an active ingredient therefore has very differnet use to CBD.

How is CBD used in Skincare?

CBD made from hemp is extracted in powder form and mixed with a carrier oil in most cases. Then used in serums, creams etc.

It has many skin benefits. It is a strong antioxidant with high anti inflamatory properties. Especially helpful for acne and eczema sufferers.

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