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What is Cannabinol (CBN)?

What is Cannabinol (CBN)?

CBN is a rare cannabinoid found in trace amounts in cannabis naturally. While it is extremely sparse in fresh flower, if cannabis is exposed to air or UV light for extended periods of time, a certain percentage of the THCA (uncombusted/unheated THC) from the flower can convert into CBN. Commercially, it is usually produced in a lab by converting THC molecules synthetically, similar to delta-8, because there is no predictable way to isolate it naturally. You can find CBN extract in edible and vape form in recreational dispensaries, smoke shops, and online. It’s often marketed as a sleep-aid, though some researchers warn that this may just be a part of cannabis lore. 

Does CBN help with sleep?


What the critics say: 

Given that CBN is naturally formed via the degradation, or aging, of THC, many critics consider it to simply be a much weaker version of THC. Most of the studies that have shown promise for CBN’s effect on sleep have been done on rodents, which critics consider to be insufficient as such studies often don’t convert to efficacy in humans. One review of eight selectively picked studies based on credibility metrics done by Pubmed and MEDLINE concluded that

“There is insufficient published evidence to support sleep-related claims. Randomized controlled trials are needed to substantiate claims made by manufacturers of cannabis products containing CBN.” 

Another common critique is that those that do experience sleep benefits from CBN are likely just experiencing placebo given the heavy marketing and subliminal messaging put forth by cannabis companies. As Project CBD, a publication on the forefront of scientific cannabis literature critique puts it: 

“If you give almost any patient population a CBN tincture and ask them to “take it daily and report how much it improved their sleep,” the results will almost always come back positive, even if the effects are neutral in reality. If you instead gave those patients a cannabinoid-free tincture (aka a placebo) but lie and tell the participants that it contains CBN, those results will almost always be positive too!” 

What the advocates say: 

While most agree that more research needs to be done before any real claims can be made about CBN helping with sleep, many people find CBN to have potent sedative, and even “trippy,” psychoactive effects. The research that backs these claims up primarily comes from the 70s and 80s, but word of mouth is enough for many alternative cannabinoid enthusiasts who are used to scientific research catching up to their anecdotal insights years later, such as when CBD was shown to inhibit COVID infection in cellsWhile critics consider CBN being a weaker version of THC a bad thing, advocates find it can be a bonus given that it can work in combination with THC for a more balanced high with products like Wyld’s best selling CBN + THC gummies

How does CBN work / what does CBN feel like? 

Scientifically, CBN binds primarily with the CB2 receptors, which contribute heavily to the regulation of inflammation, pain, the immune system, and metabolism. Delta-8 and delta-9 THC affect the same receptor, but in a much stronger way. Here are a few firsthand accounts of people using CBN from a popular reddit thread:

“It literally puts me to sleep. The next morning I did not feel any pain. I would recommend trying it.” 

“CBN knocks me out but doesn’t do much else for me unless it’s used in combination. Ex: Cheeba chew sleepy time rejuvenates me on weekends.” 

“You would need to take a lot to feel high. Only time that happened to me is when I took 75 mg of cbn gummies. Otherwise it’s great and does tend to make me fall asleep faster and sleep well throughout the night.” 

We made an earnest attempt to find some negative reviews, but came up dry. We searched variations of “CBN negative effects,” and “CBN doesn’t work,” only to find people sharing positive experiences. Still, this should be taken with a grain of salt as reddit threads are notoriously baised, particularly in niche cannabis communities. However, given the lack of public data and research, Reddit still provides valuable perspective. 

Does CBN get you high? 

CBN generally does not produce a high unless it is taken in extremely large doses, or alongside THC. While some users report feeling mild to heavy sedation, it’s nothing like a THC high despite being a degraded form of THCa. 

Final thoughts on CBN:

It’s hard to know for sure how any cannabinoid, be it CBD, delta-8, or CBN, will play out in the marketplace and research community as time unfolds. It seems like every month, new information and insights come to light. At the end of the day, the best way to find out what cannabinoids, or combination of, work best for us is to try them for ourselves. Happy experimenting!


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    Maegon Attakai

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    Decota Maheswaran

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    Nigel Snitovskyi

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