Top CBN (Cannabinol) Questions Answered by CBD Science

Top CBN (Cannabinol) Questions Answered by CBD Science

The hemp plant continues to delight us with all the available strains and extracts, the most familiar two being THC and CBD. There are over a hundred different hemp plant strains, and many are growing in popularity every day. One such strain is called CBN, also known as Cannabinol. There are some similarities between CBN and CBD, which we’ll go over in this article, and some commonly asked questions about this cannabinoid.  

What Exactly is CBN (Cannabinol)?

CBN stands for Cannabinol. Although CBN has recently grown in popularity, it was first formulated over a century ago in 1896. It was initially thought to be the cannabinoid responsible for getting people high, just like THC, since it produced the same effects.

However, it was discovered that CBN is actually what happens to THC that is left exposed to sunlight and heat. Once left exposed to environmental factors, THC will slowly oxidize into CBN. This makes it extremely simple for THC users to convert unused THC into CBN, especially since the market does not offer high strains of CBN. 

What is the difference between CBD and CBN?

While CBD and CBN both come from the hemp plant, both have different origins. CBD has a different molecular structure, and the THC must be separated from the CBD before it can become legal for use and sale. As we stated in the previous paragraph, CBN comes from old and oxidized THC.

The level of CBN depends on how long the THC has been left to oxidize, how much light it has been exposed to, and at what temperature. Still, however, CBN and CBD share many similarities in their medicinal rights. Just like CBD, CBN does not produce a “high” by itself.

If combined with THC, there will be more of a hallucinogenic effect but less paranoia. Also, the high from the combined CBN and THC is a more sedated high rather than an anxious one. If you’re looking to use cannabis for sleep purposes, blending THC and CBN can be highly beneficial. 

What Does CBN Do?

Now that we understand CBN, the obvious question is, “What does CBN do”? Unfortunately, as with many of the recently popular cannabinoids, there’s much that needs to be learned about CBN.

We’ll try to answer some of the more commonly asked questions, but bear in mind that since CBN is still being studied, there may not be much information available. 

Does CBN Get You High?

For the most part, CBN does not produce intoxicating effects on its own. It must be used in tandem with THC to produce a “high.” THC interacts with the ECS’s cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body and the central nervous system. That infamous high is the result of the THC binding to and activating the CB1 receptors.

With CBN, however, that bond to the CB1 receptors is about 10% of that intoxicating high. When used medicinally, CBN can treat a number of conditions. However, since there are many strains of THC, especially depending on which dispensary the THC is acquired from, there will be different levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, thus affecting the entourage effect.

The entourage effect happens when all the small components that makeup THC come together to create a bond. The level of the entourage effect depends solely on the number of cannabinoids and terpenes within the specific strain of THC, which in turn oxidizes into CBN.

Will CBN Cause You To Fail A Drug Test?

Since CBN only comes into existence once THC oxidizes, yes, CBN will cause you to fail a drug test. Drug tests only test for the existence of THC metabolites, which are the cells used in your body to break down THC. Since drug tests can’t determine what caused those THC metabolites to exist in the first place, your employer will only see that you at some point had a form of THC in your body.

Trying to explain to your employer why those metabolites are in your blood, saliva, or urine may not be believed or well-received. If you know you have an upcoming drug test or are required to submit random drug tests, you should abstain from taking CBN products for at least several weeks until your drug test date arrives. 

What Does CBN Feel Like?

The effects of CBN are so mild, and many people feel nothing at all. In order to feel much, you’d need an extremely large dose of CBN. The standard dose of CBN is anywhere from 2.5-5mg, which some people compare to taking a moderate dose of Valium. Known as “the sleep cannabinoid,” CBN can cause you to feel sleepy, thus aiding those who are looking to treat problems like sleep apnea, insomnia, etc. 

Is CBN Legal?

This is a tricky question because CBN is commonly formed when THC oxidizes. THC is still illegal in many states, making CBN illegal as well. In accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, as long as the CBN is a derivative of the hemp plant and contains less than 0.3% THC, it can be produced and sold as a legal byproduct without the psychoactive effect.

Unfortunately, CBN is nearly impossible to produce without using the marijuana plant. As technology progresses and harvesting methods improve, the market should have commercially available quantities of CBN without resorting to using the illegal parts of the marijuana plant. 

What is CBN Most Commonly Used For?

CBN has been used to treat several common ailments. 


CBN has been called “the sleep cannabinoid,” but only has a single study documenting the effects of using CBN as a sleep aid. In 1975, five males reported feeling more sleepy when given a combination of CBN and THC instead of using THC by itself. 

Pain Relief

A recent study in 2019 used laboratory rats to study the effects of CBN as a painkiller for myofascial pain. The rats dosed with a combination of CBN and CBD were more effective at reducing pain than with using CBN alone. As such, the study concluded that the combined use of CBN and CBD might help those suffering from fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorders. 

Reduce Inflammation

Another laboratory rat study found CBN could reduce inflammation from arthritis. Unfortunately, human testing has not yet been done, so it’s impossible to say if the effect on the rats would be the same as with humans.   

What are the Most Common Benefits of CBN?

One of the most common benefits of CBN is a more relaxing high than full-blown THC in marijuana. The British Journal of Pharmacology published research on the effects of CBN when combined with THC. The two cannabinoids combined (much like Moroccan hashish) resulted in a more sedated high (also known as couch lock high), which some users found more relaxing. 

Another known benefit of CBN is that the user may feel increased hunger, a known side effect of THC fondly referred to as “the munchies.” 

When combined with CBD, it can be used as a pain reliever, especially for those with inflamed joints. CBN can also help with sleep disorders if the dose is high enough to induce sleep. When about 2.5-5mg is administered, the effects were similar to the popular sedative diazepam. Unfortunately, more testing is necessary to understand the full benefits of taking CBN on its own and not just combined with CBD or THC. 

What are the Most Common Side Effects of CBN?

Since there is still much research needed on the effects of CBN, the side effects are unknown. This does not mean there are none, but that there needs to be more complete research to discover them. Since CBN is the oxidation of THC, common sense suggests that the side effects are similar to THC, just not as powerful. 

Why is CBD More Popular Than CBN?

CBD is arguably more popular than CBN because it’s been around longer. There are more studies, research, and products available, along with reviews and success stories from people across the world. Since CBD is legal (whereas THC still has some hoops to jump through before becoming fully legal as both a medicinal and recreational drug), it is easier and safer to acquire through trusted sources.

CBD also has more known benefits, side effects, and information available. As we learn more about CBN, it’s possible that CBN could meet or surpass the popularity of CBD. 

What are the Most Common Types of CBN Products?

Although CBN is relatively a new product, there are still some forms of CBN that can be acquired legally for recreational use. 

Tinctures & Oils

The most common type of CBN is tinctures, as they can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) for 60 seconds and then swallowed. The CBN enters directly into the bloodstream and can be utilized by the body. 

Topicals & Creams

If you’re looking to target a particular pained area, CBN topicals are an excellent way to use this cannabinoid. The CBN will only be absorbed through the top dermal layer, thus preventing CBN from directly entering the bloodstream. 


CBN capsules are also a popular method as they are easily consumed. As the digestive system processes the capsule, the contents can then enter the bloodstream once the capsule husk dissolves.  

Vapes & Extracts

CBN extracts and e-liquids are an excellent way to consume this particular cannabinoid. The vapor from the vape juice and extracts are absorbed by the lungs, making this method of consumption one of the quickest ways for the body to process and use CBN. 


CBN flower is a more advanced way to take this cannabinoid and requires some knowledge about smoking. The flower must have all the stems and seeds removed and must be ground up.

Once the flower is finely ground, it must be loaded into an empty cigarette or into an herbalizer (which can be expensive) in order to be properly smoked. While this is more of an advanced way to use it, it is also highly effective as the smoke is absorbed by the lungs and can enter the bloodstream directly.  

How Long Does CBN Take to Work?

Different CBN products will have different time frames to work. For edibles like gummies, it takes about 30-45 minutes to feel the effects fully. For certain tinctures and vape juices, the effects can be felt almost instantly. 

How Long Do the Effects of CBN Last?

Since there isn’t much research on the effects of CBN, there isn’t much research on how long the effects of CBN last. More testing is needed to confirm the exact time frame that CBN lasts. 

Does CBN Make You Sleepy?

In high doses, CBN can make you feel sleepy. This effect is particularly true when combined with THC and will result in a more “couch-lock” type of high. That being said, a low amount of CBN will most likely not cause any immediate reaction. 

Are There Any Drug Interactions with Cannabinol?

You should always check with your doctor before embarking on any new cannabinoid, whether it be THC, CBD, or CBN. As of right now, there is not much research that shows any negative drug interactions with CBN. If you are concerned about how CBN might affect you if you are currently on life-saving medication or required prescriptions, it’s best to abstain from taking CBN until further research is conducted. 

Where Can You Buy CBN?

Unfortunately, you cannot order CBN online. Since CBN is derived directly from THC, and THC is illegal to be shipped throughout the states, your best bet is to acquire CBN from a local dispensary. You can also make your own CBN with old marijuana, but the amount of CBN depends on the amount of THC within that strain. If you do find CBN in your state, you must make sure it contains less than 0.3% of THC to legally obtain it. 

How Do You Know Your CBN Is High Quality and Reputable?

If you do discover a place to buy CBN, you should check for independent third-party lab test results. This ensures that the product you’re buying contains what it says it does and can help deter you from deals that sound too good to be true. Since the FDA does not regulate CBN, it is up to you to confirm what you are allowing yourself to put into your body. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy CBN?

If your state approves the sale of marijuana or CBN, you must be at least 21 years old to purchase it. Be mindful that most dispensaries will require a valid in-state ID before selling you any CBN products.

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