Two of China’s 34 regions are quietly leading a boom in cultivating cannabis to produce cannabidiol, or CBD.
They are doing so even though cannabidiol has not been authorized for consumption in China, a country with some of the strictest drug-enforcement policies in the world.
“It has huge potential,” said Tan Xin, the chairman of Hanma Investment Group, which in 2017 became the first company to receive permission to extract cannabidiol in southern China.
The growing industry has brought much-needed investment to Yunnan. The mild, springlike climate is exemplary for growing cannabis, and a farmer can earn the equivalent of $300 an acre for it, more than for flax or rapeseed, Mr. Tian of Hempsoul said.
Hempsoul is one of four companies in Yunnan that have received licenses to process hemp for cannabidiol, putting more than 36,000 acres under cultivation. Now others are joining the rush.