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The Cannabis Investor Symposium in Hong Kong came two weeks after Canada legalised the recreational use of cannabis, and attracted 200 pot entrepreneurs. Photo: Alamy

Cannabis forum offers Hongkongers chance to invest in drug while calling on city authorities to legalise it for medicinal use

  • Cannabis Investor Symposium takes place in Kowloon, with tickets costing US$1,000 each
  • It attracts 200 pot entrepreneurs looking to invest in markets where use of cannabis is legal

Global cannabis firms have rolled into Hong Kong with their own investor forum and called on local authorities to legalise the medicinal use of the drug.

But the authorities and experts quickly extinguished the idea, saying there was no market in the city for the drug, even for medicinal use.

The Cannabis Investor Symposium was held at the W Hotel in West Kowloon on Thursday, with tickets costing US$1,000 each. It came two weeks after Canada legalised the recreational use of cannabis, and attracted 200 pot entrepreneurs to discuss the possibility of joint enterprises in markets where the use of cannabis was legal.

Saul Kaye, the founder and CEO of iCAN Israel Cannabis and one of the organisers of the event, said he wrote to Hong Kong officials weeks ago to explain the purpose of the symposium and invited them along, but was rejected. He refused to specify which authorities he invited.

Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN Israel Cannabis, speaks at the Cannabis Investor Symposium at the W Hotel in West Kowloon. Photo: Edward Wong

Before the forum started, organisers told participants no cannabis consumption would be permitted at the event and reiterated the drug laws that were strictly enforced in the city.

Cannabis is treated as a dangerous drug in Hong Kong. Trafficking the drug into the city carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, while possessing or inhaling it risks seven years’ imprisonment.

“Cannabis is not a drug. It’s a great medicine and is natural. We have really started to revolutionise how we think about cannabis,” Kaye said.

Why Hong Kong should not follow Canada on legal marijuana move

“That’s why we chose Hong Kong to be at the edge of where it is happening. And it is happening here. It is just underground and we helped bring it into the line.

“We wanted [to get local officials] in the room. We want to help them get better regulations. We want to help them understand it isn’t illegal. It is not a black market we are talking about.”

The Post contacted the Security Bureau, the police and the customs authority but none were aware of any invitation to the event.

The bureau warned that anyone dealing cannabis in Hong Kong, whether the drug itself was in the city or not, would be committing a crime while the customs authority said it would closely monitor any suspected drug activities and take prompt action when necessary.

Sumit Mehta of Mazakali. Photo: Edward Wong

Professor William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, said cannabis had a medicinal value in the 60s serving as a painkiller or anti-vomiting medicine. But it had no medicinal market in Hong Kong now, Chui said, as there were so many other options.

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“Being a natural medicine doesn’t mean it is not harmful,” Chui said. “While it could relieve pain and anxiety, it causes a lot of adverse effects such as faster heartbeat and influence in brain. It is also addictive.”

The Food and Health Bureau said the authority was not in position to comment on the issue.

Kaye added the cannabis business in Canada was worth around US$100 billion and he hoped to attract Chinese investment into these projects.

Thailand eyes becoming first Asian country to legalise medical marijuana

“They are looking. They are excited by the industry as it is the fastest growing industry in the world. They need [to know] where to put their capital to work.”

Hong Kong police warned on their website that long-term cannabis abusers could suffer endocrine disorder, conjunctivitis, bronchitis and smoking-related diseases.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: HK urged to legalise medical marijuana