Updated: September 9, 2021
There are over 144 different cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants. Some of these are more popular than others because of their potential effects. We say "potential" here because these effects have not yet been proven.1 We’re looking at some of these popular minor cannabinoids and their relationship to your well-being, including cannabinol (CBN). What is CBN? And what's the difference between CBD and CBN?
These are the questions we hope to answer in this article on CBN. Much of the current research into CBN and CBD products deals with potential benefits that have not yet been thoroughly proven. With that said, there’s lots to learn about CBN as a remarkable cannabinoid. Here’s what you need to know about cannabinol CBN.
The Science Behind CBN
CBN (cannabinol) is a non-intoxicating minor cannabinoid that is found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. It is actually found in more abundance in an aged cannabis plant. If cannabis is exposed for a prolonged period of time to air or UV light, the THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinol acid, it will degrade into cannabinol acid (CBNa) which then transforms into CBN in a chemical reaction that releases a carbon atom and CO2, called decarboxylation.
In regard to the what effects of CBN maybe, some people claim they found that CBN is great for nighttime use, especially when used in conjunction with THC. This is why some people say that older cannabis or poorly stored marijuana that has been exposed to air and light has the potential to make you more chill.2
This observation that using older cannabis can be a different experience than fresh cannabis might have been first discovered by medical cannabis users who found an old stash. But now that people believe this to be a reality, based on their anecdotal experience, some people now age their cannabis flower purposefully, like one might age a cigar or a bottle of wine, to nurture this potential effect. Some cannabis connoisseurs have also noticed this CBN experience from cannabis that was harvested a week or so after the intended harvesting date. Again, these experiences are anecdotal and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here’s something a little more rooted in the science: a 1999 study by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime reported that THC content in a tested aged cannabis sample dropped to half of its original potency after four years. As the THC oxidized over time, it converted to CBN. Researchers suggest that CBN has one-quarter the potency of THC.3
Is CBN Legal?
CBN products are not specifically mentioned under current federal law. It is not listed in the schedules of controlled substances kept by the Department of Justice. Hemp is defined by federal law only in its relation to Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol THC, CBN is not mentioned.4 So, CBN content is legal in the sense that it’s not illegal — which is not exactly the same thing.
For instance, while hemp-derived CBN products may be perfectly legal, the same compound derived from state-legal marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This messy legal problem is a symptom of the changing nature of American laws towards cannabis that will likely sort itself out over time.
But for now, it’s important to know that the only type of CBN that’s legal under federal law is CBN derived from strains of cannabis defined as hemp, and not marijuana.
Medical Benefits of CBN
As we've mentioned, cannabinoids like CBD and CBN, along with THC, are exclusively found in the cannabis plant. Studies on these compounds revealed a new system in the body that interacts with them called the endocannabinoid system. the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, is a network of cannabinoid receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, that are found throughout the entire body. All of the cannabinoids work together in different ways to encourage the best performance from the ECS. The effort of the cannabinoids working together is called an entourage effect, and it may have different benefits for the human body.
The National Cancer Institute reports that CBN can help manage insomnia and reduce seizures caused by epilepsy and also has sedative effects. CBN's ability to help both these disorders makes it an appealing treatment for people who are not typically consumers of THC or CBD products.
An example of this effect in action is that when CBN is combined with THC, people find that it is best used for nighttime. Products like these which combine higher levels of these two cannabinoids with each other are often found in dispensaries in legal cannabis products states but are not yet legal under federal law.
But do you really need multiple cannabinoids together to have an effect? It turns out that you do! In fact, there’s some clinical evidence to support that CBN alone doesn’t help you rest at night. Human studies from the 1970s found that by itself, CBN could not address this issue. CBN acts on the ECS more efficiently with the interaction of all cannabinoids together. Therefore, CBD users looking for another popular cannabinoid should be skeptical of CBN isolate products that claim to make a difference.5
Can CBN help with sleep disorders?
Although a specific CBN dosage has not yet been determined for managing sleep disorders, some research suggests that the cannabinoid may positively impact this disorder. One study observed patients with primary insomnia by giving one group of subjects CBN capsules and another group a placebo every day for four weeks. The researchers observed significant improvement in sleep quality in the CBN group participants, suggesting that a CBN dosage may be effective in treating sleep disorders.6
CBN's potential as a sleep aid makes it a good therapeutic candidate for those with insomnia and other related conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
But the benefits of CBN don't end there! We've got plenty more to learn about this cannabinoid so stay tuned
More studies on humans must be conducted to uncover the full benefits of when CBN acts on the body, along with other minor cannabinoids. For example, there is currently no decisive answer to whether or not CBN has psychoactive properties or intoxicating effects.6
Brands are beginning to offer products with isolated CBN, usually in the form of tinctures or edibles, and marketing them as sleep aids.7 As stated above, be very skeptical about any claims being made by CBN isolate products. However, one natural source of CBN is as a part of a full spectrum CBD-dominant hemp extract, like the ones made by us at Cornbread Hemp.
The leaves and stems of the hemp plant do not have as many cannabinoid compounds as the flowers, so the resulting products are less potent and have a grassy, bitter flavor. That is why we use organic Kentucky-grown hemp flowers for our Flower-Only™ extraction to create our small-batch oils. This allows our CBD oils to taste great naturally, without the need for artificial flavors or sweeteners, and the full spectrum formulas are as potent as we can legally make them.
The USDA-certified organic seal on our CBD oils makes us stand out in the vastly unregulated CBD industry. You can also verify your Cornbread Hemp product is free of harmful pesticides and fertilizers by scanning the QR code on the packaging, leading you directly to the Certificate of Analysis. Here, you will find safety reports as well as potency tests for the cannabinoids present. Our lab reports for our Extra Strength Whole Flower USDA Organic CBD Oil, 50MG/ML show detectable levels of CBN, along with CBD, THC, CBDV, CBC, and CBG.
For the best organic CBD products with the full spectrum of major and minor cannabis compounds, like CBN cannabinol, shop with Cornbread Hemp!
Is CBN a sleep aid?
Brands are beginning to offer products with isolated CBN, usually in the form of tinctures or edibles and marketing them as sleep aids. But there is no research yet that backs those claims.
What is CBN?
CBN (cannabinol) is a non-intoxicating minor cannabinoid that is found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. It is actually found in more abundance in an aged cannabis plant.
Why might you want aged cannabis?
Because with time and heat, some of the THC in the cannabis will have turned into CBN, which tends to mellow you out and get you ready for sleep.
1. Darling, Carter. “How many different cannabinoids are there in marijuana?” The Weed Blog. Pub: 10 Aug. 2020. Accessed: 27 Oct. 2020. https://theweedblog.com/marijuana-science/how-many-different-cannabinoids-are-there-in-marijuana
2,3. “Cannabidiol.” WeedMaps. Pub.: 2020. Accessed: 28 Oct. 2020. https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/cannabinol-cbn/.
4. Cannabinol: Is it legal?” Ritter Spencer PLLC. Pub.: 18 Aug. 2020. Accessed: 28 Oct. 2020. https://ritterspencer.com/cannabinol-cbn-is-it-legal/.
5, 6, 7. Earlenbaugh, Emily. “What Is CBN (Cannabinol) & What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?” Leafly. Pub.: 15 May 2015. Accessed: 28 Oct. 2020. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/what-is-cbn-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabinoid.
All rights reserved. The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of CBD products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to health information from health care practitioners. Hemp-cannabis consumers should consult their health care professional about potential interactions or other possible side effects before using any cannabis product.
Cornbread Hemp works with suppliers who guarantee cannabis sativa plant matter with less than or equal to 0.3% levels of THC. With these trace amounts of delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol THC, CBD products may increase the possibility that users may fail a drug test, even though federally legal full spectrum products containing THC and CBD are non-intoxicating and do not cause a cannabis high. Cornbread Hemp does not take any responsibility in the instance a customer fails a drug test while using any legal hemp cannabis products.