Amidst the stigma that surrounds CBD in Hong Kong, Heavens Please founder Denis Tam is fighting to raise awareness about the benefits of cannabidiol.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Denise Tam has never been one for the conventional. Having previously worked as a live drawing model and a “part-time witch,” she and her partner Terry Wu are now the proud founders of Heavens Please, a premium cannabinoid (CBD) select shop with a focus on hemp, cannabidiol and plant-based wellness. Established in March 2019, Heavens Please is dedicated to offering organic, plant-based CBD products created with ethically sourced ingredients. Taking a holistic approach to wellness, Heavens Please advocates the use of CBD for all aspects – emotional, physical, and spiritual – of daily life, working with companies from the US and Europe to bring these products to Hong Kong. By educating the general public on the many benefits of hemp and cannabis, Heavens Please aims to change the public reception of CBD, ultimately breaking the stigma that surrounds the controversial topic in Hong Kong.
Is CBD Legal in Hong Kong?
CBD, a natural compound found in cannabis, is legal in Hong Kong. A non-psychoactive substance, CBD does not create the high that can be caused by marijuana, which contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), meaning it does not fall under the city’s Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
However, CBD does offer a wide array of health benefits, such as anti-inflammation, stress relief, and pain management. A strong advocate of plant-based natural healing, Denise’s decision to introduce the compound to Hong Kong felt like a no-brainer. “As herbalists, we were already used to incorporating herbs and entheogens into our daily lives,” Denise explains. “After we started using CBD, we observed great effects within ourselves.” Upon the pair’s discovery of cannabidiol and its vast range of benefits, it didn’t take long for them to notice a gap in the Hong Kong market. Having used it herself to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, Denise believes that CBD can be used to help people heal from ailments without having to experience the associated side effects of pharmaceutical medications.
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Fighting The Stigma of CBD
Though there are currently no regulations on the CBD and cannabis industry, the pair initially found it difficult to break into the market due to the ambiguous legalities in Hong Kong. “CBD itself is not a well-tolerated concept and the government has never made a very clear announcement on whether it is legal or not,” Denise explains. “That’s why we faced a lot of rejection in the beginning – people are very wary of the idea of involving CBD in their business.” Despite its legal status, CBD faces many misconceptions in the public eye due to its close association with marijuana, which Denise believes is due to a lack of available information. “If the government can conduct a more in-depth study on CBD and its regulations and make a clarification on the remaining grey areas, people will be more able to understand,” she says.
Though the pair faced significant struggles in the beginning, Denise is proud of the progress they’ve made since the inception of Heavens Please, having built their business from the ground up. “We spent a huge amount of time doing research on the companies and products we’re bringing in to make sure they were safe and of good quality,” she says. “We basically did everything ourselves. It was a lot of work.” The duo has since established a strong client base in Hong Kong, yet Denise believes that there is still room for growth in the CBD market. “There is huge demand because nowadays people gravitate towards a natural way of healing,” she explains. “They’re more alert to what they are consuming on a daily basis, so a lot of people are moving away from pharmaceuticals.” With more businesses continuing to enter the industry and more information being spread about CBD’s effects and benefits (a key factor in destigmatising the substance), Denise feels optimistic about the future.
Moving forward, Denise hopes to continue expanding Heavens Please and is currently working alongside local artisans to create Hong Kong-made CBD product lines, whilst promoting CBD to those in need. “Heavens Please gave me a chance to create change in people’s lives for the better,” she says. “Knowing what I’m doing is helping people, whether it’s relieving stress or supporting small independent businesses – it makes me happy.”