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A young woman with a dropper full of CBN oil dripping onto hemp flower.

Cannabinoid Profile: What is CBN?

In recent years, Cannabinol (CBN) has entered the limelight, intriguing consumers interested in the plant’s therapeutic potential. Beyond the well-trodden paths paved by the more famous compounds like THC and CBD lies CBN, a cannabinoid with its own story and a budding profile in the wellness sphere.

In this article we’re exploring CBN and unfolding the layers, casting a light on its distinct qualities and its emerging role.

A model of the CBN molecule.
CBN is about 10x less intoxicating than THC.

What is CBN?

CBN is a compound found in cannabis that is created as THC breaks down, a product of time and environmental exposure. This transformation results in a cannabinoid that’s far more present in aged cannabis flower.

Unlike its parent compound, which boasts a reputation for its psychoactivity, researchers believe cannabinol is about 10 times less intoxicating than its parent cannabinoid, THC. It has shown promise as a strong sedative and the preferred method for treating sleep disorders like insomnia and in managing pain of conditions like fibromyalgia.


dry marijuana buds outside of a jar on a white background.
As THC is exposed to light and oxygen, it breaks down into CBN.

How is CBN created?

As THC ages, it oxidizes, changing into the less psychoactive cannabinol. This occurs when cannabis encounters heat and/or light over time, altering its chemical composition. The levels of CBN within a plant or product can serve as a sort of clock, a marker of maturity, and a measure of past exposure to elements.

This also means that cannabis users who improperly store their flower or store flower for longer than normal can find their favorite strains have become more sedative than they would normally like.

On the other hand, cannabis can be intentionally made to have higher levels of CBN by extending the cure time or by exposing the flower to heat or light. Unfortunately, this also means that some of the fragile terpenes in the flower may break down, resulting in a less flavorful experience.

The Effects of CBN

Undoubtedly, the biggest claim to fame is the sedation effects. It also has a reputation for mildly psychoactive properties, though hugely overshadowed by reports of its sleep-inducing effects.

Medical Potential of CBN

Medical applications are still being investigated, but a 2005 study found that when given in small doses over a 12-week period, cannabinol had neuroprotective properties.

This is one of the most exciting potential effects – preventing or delaying the onset of terrible brain-affecting diseases like ALS.

Some research also hints at its potential to soothe inflammation and act as a pain moderator. However, the full extent of cannabinols potential benefits remains a subject of debate. More research is needed to explore this subject.

Legal Status and Accessibility

CBN currently occupies a gray area. Most commonly found in trace amounts in legally compliant CBD products, CBN’s legal acceptance is very dependent on its source and concentration. As a general rule of thumb, CBN products made from hemp and contain less than 0.3% THC are legal to buy and consume in most states in the U.S.

However, if you seek out this cannabinoid, you will need to research local laws and regulations and stay informed about the legalities that govern its accessibility.

What’s the difference between CBD and CBN?

Researchers liken Cannabinol to a distant relative of CBD (cannabidiol). While it shares a similarity with the more prominent cannabinoids, its individual attributes give it its distinct role.


Completely non-psychoactive and well-regarded for its reported benefits in treating conditions like:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Pain
  • Addiction Treatment
  • Epilepsy syndromes (Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Tuberous sclerosis complex)

CBD is widely available in a variety of forms like:

  • High CBD flower
  • Gummies
  • Edibles
  • Pills
  • Patches
  • Creams
  • Oils
  • Tinctures
  • Lotions
  • Shampoo
  • Vape pens

What is CBD?


Far less known than CBD and as a result, far less researched. Cannabinol is mildly psychoactive and reported to help with:

  • Insomnia
  • Inflammation
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Chronic Pain
  • Treatment of ALS
A SPECTRA CANNA DROPS Sleep formula package on a white background.
Spectra offers products that contain a careful formulation of CBD + CBN

CBN in Products

Though available in fewer forms than CBD, its making a name for itself in a variety of products, often marketed toward those seeking a sleep aid. Customers interested in these products should prioritize transparency and lab verification to ensure they receive the quality and cannabinoid content they expect.

Its available in forms like:

  • CBN flower
  • Oils
  • Tinctures
  • Capsules
  • Vape pens
  • Tea
  • CBN isolate

Final Thoughts

Future scientific study is crucial to understanding this lesser known compound. Researchers have been diving deeper into its pharmacology, hopeful that its full spectrum of effects will reveal new therapeutic possibilities.

Its potential benefits promise to enrich our understanding of cannabis’s diverse therapeutic arsenal. For now, we’ll need to wait for the findings of future research, but staying informed and seeking expert guidance, as always, is the best approach for those curious about what CBN may offer.


CBD vs CBN: What’s the Difference?

Is CBN Legal In the United States?

Research Shows 9 Potential Health Benefits of CBN

Medical FAQ