Following a 420 demonstration in Taipei and an adjustment to a prison sentence for growing weed, we take a look at Taiwan's cannabis laws. In short, YES! You can get CBD in Taiwan and it might be easier than you think. Read it in Mandarin >> 台灣合法購買 CBD 大麻二酚 Following the trend of cannabis legalization globally, CBD products have been… This report provides an overview of the regulatory regime for CBD, hemp and cannabis in Taiwan
What’s the Deal with Taiwan’s Cannabis Laws?
You don’t need to be in Taiwan for very long to know that the country takes a tough stance on drugs. The country still famously retains the death penalty for some offenses, and international travelers must sign off on that knowledge when they fill out their landing cards.
That considered, the events of the past week might come as a bit of a surprise to some. Taiwan announced this week that it was reducing the penalty for growing cannabis plants from a minimum of five years to a maximum of seven.
Meanwhile, just a few days earlier, legalization advocates with the group Green Sensation (綠色浪潮) held a public demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice, followed by a gathering in central Taipei’s Liberty Square, with activities, speeches, and live music. The event, which was held in anticipation of 420 Weed Day on April 20, was aimed at raising awareness about cannabis and legalization efforts. A petition to legalize marijuana put together by Green Sensation has reportedly garnered more than 12,000 signatures.
Changing Attitudes toward Cannabis
While these developments hardly total up to nationwide acceptance support for legalized cannabis, they do occur as attitudes toward to substance appear to be easing. Around 100,000 people use cannabis recreationally according to Ministry of Justice data, while medical marijuana is currently permitted in Taiwan in some circumstances. Currently, four types of medicine containing THC are permitted for patient use.
Cannabis is now legal in a handful of regions globally, but laws remain tight in Taiwan. (Photo: Oregon Department of Agriculture)
As in other parts of the world, cannabis use in Taiwan and East Asia goes back millennia. According to Washington D.C.’s THC Museum, hemp-cord pottery and tools for pounding hemp were found in Taipei’s Yuanshan archaeological site. The Shennong Ben Cao Jing, one of China’s oldest medical texts, also describes how cannabis induces shaman-like trances, and in large quantities, enables divine communication.
Today, however, the plant has lost this spiritual association. Unlike countries like Canada, where recreational consumption of cannabis is widely seen as similar to nicotine and alcohol, it is perceived in Taiwan as a gateway drug and a threat to public health.
Currently, cannabis is listed as a Category 2 drug under the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, making it just as illegal as methamphetamines and raw products like coca and opium poppies. That means a sentence of up to two years in prison for possession, while selling can land you with a life sentence.
Misguided Public Knowledge
“Our education system basically teaches us that weed will poison you, and if you use it today, you’ll start using heroin tomorrow,” Zoe Lee told the HK Free Press last year.
A self-described “weed lawyer” Lee’s practice offers specialized defense for people involved in cannabis-related cases in Taiwan. She explained that part of the problem is a lack of understanding about cannabis in Taiwanese courts. For example, it’s widely misunderstood that people smoke cannabis leaves, as opposed to the flowers, meaning that it’s possible to be sentenced to years of prison time for growing a male plant, which does not have high enough THC levels to produce a psychoactive high if smoked.
Still, Lee believes a shift in attitudes is trickling into Taiwan through social media and the Internet, numerous Chinese-language vlogs about personal cannabis experiences and the effects of the drug can be found on YouTube, while podcasts such as Lee’s own In The Weeds inform listeners about the drug, safe use, and its legal status in Taiwan.
The fact that much of this information is more likely to reach Taiwanese young people, who incidentally made up most of the attendees of the Green Sensation event suggests that wider awareness about cannabis may only be budding among younger age groups. That considered, any truly noteworthy changes to cannabis’s status in Taiwan are likely to be slow growth.
Is CBD Legal in Taiwan? A short tutorial to help you to get your first CBD product in Taiwan.
Following the trend of cannabis legalization globally, CBD products have been recognized as a health/wellness supplement. However, living in the country with relatively conservative social circumstances in Asia, such as Taiwan, might cause you a huge price to obtain recreational or medicinal substances.
That been said, I personally do not encourage you to do anything that will violate the local law.
So is CBD legal in Taiwan? Yes! CBD is not a controlled substance nor narcotic good in Taiwan.
In fact, according to the announcement that has been published by Taiwan FDA (TFDA) in May 2020, CBD is one kind of medicine. As long as you purchase CBD products for the purpose of personal use, that’s totally fine.
But how do I do that?
According to TFDA’s announcement, what you need is to prepare the documents as below:
- Your Taiwanese’s ID card or residency card.
- Product box, description, and product function (If needed).
- A Prescription from certified physicians indicated your need of CBD.
- Product Certification of Analysis (making sure your product has no THC).
You can use this page to submit your documents: https://www.fda.gov.tw/TC/site.aspx?sid=3928
Very tedious? I know..
Now, I’m going to tell you a secret. If I tell you I can help you to get the documents of point 2.3 & 4, would you like to visit our website to purchase THC free CBD products? I bet you will.
I’m the founder and the CEO of an SF based CBD distribution company, Marigen Inc. We have an e-commerce platform named Machiyami . We only source the premium/top brand CBD products from the U.S. to Asia. From gummies, tincture to skincare, even sexual health product line. Although the site is in Mandarin, but don’t worry my friend, we do provide customer service in English.
Now, let’s circle back to the prescription. How do you get them?
There are two options, one is in Northern Taiwan and the other is in Southern Taiwan.
If you live in the greater TPE area, you can go talk to Dr. Kung, who has great prestige in the mental health area. If you live in the greater Kaohsiung area, you can go visit Dr. Lai. Dr. Lai might be the only unicorn that you can find who went to the top med-school in Taiwan with deep knowledge of cannabis/alternative medicine.
Here are their fan pages.
Still very tedious, right?
Here is a trick. You don’t need to apply for the permission to purchase the products for personal use upfront, you can simply place the order online and have the products ship to you. If custom stoped the products and requested for the documents, you can give them the documents accordingly.
That means you can purchase THC free products online and have them ship to you without paperwork.
You have to make sure what you’ve purchased were really THC free. Otherwise, you might have committed a narcotic crime without knowing it.
One more thing
If you found some companies/vendors selling CBD ”in Taiwan”, please be aware. According to TFDA regulation, selling CBD is illegal in Taiwan. So all the local vendors who sell CBD on Shopee/facebook/instagram/line are probably illegal. You might think that “Hey, I’m just a consumer, I might be fine buying things from them.”
- You might violate the law called “Pharmaceutical Affairs Law”. That means jail time and fines.
- If those vendors are illegal, do you think they care about your need, product QA/QC, your shopping experience, and your health? I don’t think so.
Last but not least
If you really bump into any legal trouble after purchasing CBD products, you better call Zoe. The one and only cannabis lawyer in Taiwan to save you.
有任何問題都可以到我的 facebook 專頁 → 綠金創業家 提問喔！
If you have any question regarding cannabis/CBD, please visit my fanpage → 綠金創業家
If you are looking for legal THC free CBD products, come visit Machiyami.
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Regulatory report: Taiwan, April 2021
CBD is not a controlled drug in Taiwan, but the growing of cannabis plants for any purposes including the extraction of CBD is prohibited by the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act. While this is the case, CBD finished products can be legally sold in Taiwan as long as the specific product does not claim to have therapeutic properties. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the current regulatory regime for CBD in Taiwan, covering everything from extracts and finished products, to import/export laws and medicinal cannabis.