CBN molecule in front of blue bubbles

What is CBN (Cannabinol)?

There are over a hundred cannabinoids in marijuana, and each one of them contribute to the entourage effect we experience when we consume cannabis. In this guide, we’re going to talk about CBN and answer the questions:

  • What Is CBN?
  • Where Does CBN Come From?
  • CBD vs CBN: What’s The Difference?
  • THC vs CBN: What’s The Difference?
  • CBG vs CBN: What’s The Difference?
  • What CBN Products Are Available?
  • FAQs About CBN

What is CBN?

CBN, or cannabinol, is a cannabinoid created when THC breaks down. This breakdown can be caused when marijuana is exposed to heat and light, or it can simply be the result of age. This is why we find more CBN in old cannabis than fresh cannabis. Because CBN comes from the breakdown of THC, it can retain some of the psychoactive effects we expect from THC.

Where Does CBN Come From?

CBN comes from the degradation of THC. Similar to how decarboxylation turns THCA into THC, when THC is broken down by heat, light, or age, it creates CBN. If you’ve ever tried to indulge in old cannabis, you know that it’s decidedly less potent but can still have some psychoactive effects. This is largely due to the mild effects CBN retains in its transition from THC.

CBD vs CBN: What’s the Difference?

While both CBD, or cannabidiol, and CBN are cannabinoids found in marijuana, there are a few differences between them. These differences include:

  • How they’re made: CBD is the result of the breakdown of CBDA. CBN is the result of THC breaking down.

  • Where they come from: Both CBD and CBN can be found in hemp and marijuana plants. That said, because hemp plants are required to have less than 0.3% THC, it’s likely that marijuana plants will be more successful at creating higher amounts of CBN compared to hemp plants.

  • Their effects: CBD affects the endocannabinoid system differently than THC, potentially even counteracting THC’s psychoactive effects. CBD does not cause psychoactive effects on its own. CBN, however, may have some psychoactive effects because it comes from the breakdown of THC.

THC vs CBN: What’s the Difference?

Outside of the fact that they are different cannabinoids, the difference between THC and CBN is their potency. For CBN to exist, THC has to be broken down by heat, light, or just time. Because of this breakdown, the potency of the THC is greatly diminished when it turns into CBN. This means that it only has mild psychoactive effects compared to THC.

CBG vs CBN: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between CBN and CBG, or cannabigerol, is that without CBG, CBN couldn’t exist. CBG is considered the mother of all cannabinoids because when CBGA, the precursor to CBG, breaks down, it becomes THCA and CBDA—the precursors to THC and CBD. In order for CBN to exist, THC has to be broken down. In the most simplified and unscientific of terms, CBG is the great-grandparent to CBN.

What CBN Products are Available?

While CBN might have become popular because someone incorrectly published that it could help with sleep, it remains popular as one of the many cannabinoids that can affect our endocannabinoid systems. As such, there are a number of CBN products on the market today, including:

  • CBN Tinctures: CBN tinctures can be CBN isolates or a mix of CBD and CBN. The cannabinoid or cannabinoids are suspended in an alcohol and designed to be added to a food or drink like cannabis tea—or simply taken sublingually (under the tongue).

  • CBN Oils: CBN oils can come in one of two ways: a CBN isolate, which simply means that the cannabinoid is infused with an oil, or a CBN full spectrum oil, which means that CBN along with a number of other cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, are infused into the oil.

  • CBN Gummies: If you’re interested in trying CBN, but you’re not interested in a liquid form, gummies might be the answer. These sweet-flavored candies typically combine CBN and CBD, but there are many gummies that come full spectrum as well.

  • CBN Capsules: CBN capsules are typically a full-spectrum product that embraces the idea of the entourage effect—the notion that all cannabinoids and terpenes work together to affect how we feel when we consume marijuana. If you purchase CBN capsules in a dispensary, they will contain varying levels of THC. Outside of a dispensary, they can only contain up to 0.3% THC.

Answering FAQs About CBN

The marijuana industry loves its acronyms, and because of that, we get a lot of questions about cannabinoids. The most common questions we get about CBN are:

What is CBN in gummies?
CBN gummies are chewy edibles that contain either CBN isolate or a broad spectrum of cannabinoids including CBD. If purchased from a dispensary, you may be able to find full spectrum CBN gummies, which means that in addition to other cannabinoids and CBN, the gummies also contain THC.

Is CBN legal?
The legality of CBN depends on the state. Many states have legalized cannabis for medical patients and/or recreational customers, and it’s likely you can purchase CBN products from a licensed dispensary there. However, if you are in a state where cannabis has not been legalized, you won’t be able to purchase CBN.

Can CBN get you “high”?
CBN may have mild psychoactive effects. This is because THC, when exposed to heat, light, or simply time, will change into CBN. It’s possible that in that process, some psychoactive effects are retained.

Purchasing CBN Products

Truth is, only you know the answer to that. This is true for all marijuana products—you get to decide if they are something you want to try. If you’re still unsure, visit a dispensary location to talk to our cannabis experts and learn more about cannabis, cannabinoids, and the tools you may need to enjoy them.  

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Ohio and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.