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Cannabis 101

What is cannabinol: CBN’s potential benefits and effects

04.26.22 - 4 min read

Our knowledge about cannabis is changing so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up, no matter how passionate you are about the plant. Humans have cultivated and used cannabis sativa for centuries, and more recently we’ve begun to seriously study its effects. There is now a growing body of research on the potential medical benefits of cannabis, and especially the possibilities of the two most well-known cannabinoids: THC and CBD. 

There are up to 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and it’s not exactly easy to stay up to date on them all. But if you’re wondering what the next “big thing” in cannabis industry might be, it’s probably a good idea to get familiar with cannabinol (CBN). 

While CBN has been on the radar of scientists for decades, the research surrounding it is still limited. But recently, there’s been increased interest in CBN, and it could be one of the next cannabinoids developed for its potential medical benefits and effects. In this guide, we’ll bring you up to speed on all the latest info about CBN, including a comparison to its cousin CBD, and its potential applications. 

Quick CBN facts 

●  CBN is a minor cannabinoid compound found in the cannabis plant that has shown the potential to provide several health benefits for patients. 

●  There is still not enough research about CBN to be comprehensive, which means there is still a long way to go to truly understand this compound. 

What is CBN? 

CBN is a chemical compound present in low concentrations in cannabis. While it is found in trace amounts in fresh cannabis, it’s much more abundant in older cannabis that has already been dried and stored for some time. The reason for that is that it actually occurs as a by product of the deterioration of THC. Over time, if THC is exposed to heat, light, and oxygen, THC goes through a process called decarboxylation, where it is converted to CBN. 

CBN’s effect, like the other cannabinoids, comes from its ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors that occur throughout the human body. There are two main cannabinoid receptors that scientists have identified: CB1 and CB2. 

CBN interacts weakly with the CB1 receptor and more strongly with the CB2 receptor. These receptors play a role in regulating a number of processes like appetite, mood, memory, and pain. [Source] 


CBN vs CBD: similarities and differences 

CBN and CBD have similar names and acronyms, but they’re definitely not the same thing. They are both cannabinoids and can be found in the cannabis plant, but they are separate compounds and have their own unique effects. Some of the similarities between CBN and CBD include: 

●  Both cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. 

● Both have similar potential benefits and effects on the body. 

● Both have shown very few side effects. 



However, there are some important differences between CBD and CBN. Some of these include 

● Concentration: CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in the plant. There is usually much less CBN, especially in live plants. 

● Psychoactivity: Both CBN and CBD are psychoactive, but while CBN is thought to affect behavior and mood, CBD’s effect on the nervous system is milder. 

● Formation: CBN forms in cannabis as THC breaks down from age, heat, and light. CBD is formed from CBDa, when marijuana is exposed to heat and air. 

● Legal status: CBN is usually grouped together with THC and is usually more strictly regulated throughout the U.S. CBD has a unique legal standing and now, as long as it comes from a cannabis or hemp plant with less than 0.3% THC, it is considered legal. [Source] 

● Research: CBD is relatively well-researched, so we have a fairly comprehensive understanding of its effects. CBN is still new and we know much less about it at this stage. 

● Cost: CBN products tend to be more expensive than CBD products. This is because CBN is typically harder to isolate than CBD and the process takes more time. 

What does CBN do? Potential benefits & effects 

So now that we understand some of the science behind this cannabinoid, you may be thinking, “what’s CBN good for?” 

Currently, there’s no definitive answer to that question. CBN’s effects are still relatively unknown. There have been several scientific studies looking at its effects on animals, but not nearly enough to be comprehensive, so further research is needed. 


CBN and sleep 

Some research suggests that CBN intensifies the sleep-inducing effects sometimes associated with THC, so it may be useful for relaxation. However, a more recent study of CBN literature suggests that “pre-clinical and clinical research investigating the effects of CBN is dated and limited” and that there is little evidence supporting the sleep-inducing effect of CBN. (Basically, there are no clear answers about CBN and sleep, and more research needs to be conducted.) 

CBN products 

CBN is increasingly popular in a wide variety of products. Aside from cannabis flowers, you can find CBN in: 

● Vaping liquids 

● Edibles 

● Concentrates 

● Beverages 

● Gummies 

● Bulk isolate 

● Pre-rolls 

● Tinctures 

● Topicals 

● Skin patches 

To learn more about CBN cannabis products, get personalized recommendations and try them out for yourself, visit RISE and connect with our staff of experts.

Find a dispensary near me.


Cannabinol FAQ 

Simply put, it depends where you live. 

In the U.S., recreational marijuana and its extracts are now legal in 18 states. Many more states permit the consumption of medical cannabis, although pure CBN and CBN products are not yet commonly prescribed by doctors for many medical conditions. 

Note that while many states have legalized recreational and medical marijuana and its extracts, compounds, and derivatives (including CBN) for many uses, these substances remain illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act. 

Is CBN intoxicating? 

CBN can cause psychoactive effects, so it’s possible to experience intoxication if a person consumes a large quantity of it. But the effects are typically very mild compared with THC. Generally, most people consuming CBN by itself will most likely not get the same intoxicating effects (such as altered behavior, perception, etc.) as they would from THC. 


Is CBN good for sleep? 

There’s no definitive answer yet. 

So far, there’s very little evidence that CBN, by itself, aids sleep. The few studies that investigated the effects of CBN on humans have been minor and have had limitations in their methodology. So, it’s still unclear whether CBN by itself is good for sleep. 

However, it’s possible CBN may aid sleep indirectly. For example, one of the potential applications of CBN is to manage pain and inflammation. Both pain and inflammation can make it difficult for people to fall asleep. CBN could help individuals sleep better by aiding in the relief of discomfort. 

Bottom line: any sleep-inducing effects produced by the cannabis plant may come partially from CBN, but they may also come from CBD, THC, other cannabinoids, terpenes, or the entourage effect as a result of their interaction. Whether or not CBN is partially responsible for marijuana’s potential sleep-aiding effects is yet to be proven. 

How long does CBN stay in the body? 

The short answer is that we’re not yet sure. The longer answer is that it depends on a number of considerations, like how much you consume, personal biological factors, and others. 

One of the main factors that influences how long CBN stays in the body is how you consume it. Research has found that the average half-life of CBN is 32 hours when it is injected intravenously. The half-life of CBN was 43 hours after smoking cannabis. That means that about half of the CBN will have been eliminated 43 hours after smoking cannabis. 



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