What Is Cannabinol?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard about CBD and THC- the most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
But these are not the only chemical compounds you will find in the cannabis plant. In our last article, we talked about Delta-8-THC and how it’s different from the THC we know as Delta-9-THC (you can read more here)
In this guide, we will look at another minor cannabinoid; CBN, what it is, its possible effects, as well as how it’s connected to the other cannabinoids.
What is CBN?
CBN, short for Cannabinol, is one of the 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. However, unlike CBD and THC, Cannabidiol doesn’t come directly from the cannabis plant; it forms as a result of oxidation of THC. In other words, Cannabinol is created through the degradation of THCA, which is the precursor to THC.
Some Basics On How Cannabinoids Form;
Major cannabinoids such as CBD and THC begin life as CBGA (cannabigerol acid) in the raw cannabis plant.
Natural enzymes in cannabis break down cannabigerolic acid, transforming it into cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), or Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
When THCA is exposed to heat, it transforms to THC. When exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, THCA becomes cannabinolic acid (CBNA). CBNA can then be transformed to CBN through decarboxylation (read; exposed to heat).
This is how it happens:
CBGA (found in the raw cannabis plant) is converted to THCA (through enzyme action). THCA is converted to CBNA (UV rays Action). CBNA is then converted to CBN (through heat action)
In short, when THCA is exposed to air for a long time, it loses a hydrogen molecule and undergoes oxidation. This leads to the formation of CBNA. CBNA is then be exposed to heat and UV lights, converting it to CBN.
CBN is considered a degradation of THC. If you store cannabis flowers for a long time, the THC in the flower ultimately converts to CBN.
Comparing Cannabinol To Other Cannabinoids
Although Cannabinol is derived from THC, its chemical composition is closely related to that of CBD. Still, it shares some characteristics with THC, and it’s better to view it as a hybrid between THC and CBD.
Compared to other cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, the concentration of Cannabinol in the cannabis plant is much lower. This is because as explained, it’s a degrade of THC which can only be achieved as the cannabis plant ages.
The other difference between this compound and cannabinoids such as CBD and THC is that while the two are produced directly in the resin glands of the cannabis plant, CBN is produced when THC is exposed to air and sunlight.
Just like THC, CANNABINOL can bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. This is why both compounds may have psychoactive effects. However, Cannabinol is said to have less intoxicating effects as compared to THC.
What Is CBN Oil?
There’s CBD oil, why not CBN oil?
CBN oil refers to Cannabinol that has been dissolved into a carrier oil as a tincture. Just like full-spectrum CBD oil, Cannabinol oil may have other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This will bring about the entourage effect.
Where Can I Find Cannabinol?
It’s hard to find flowers high in Cannabinol at your local dispensary.
Luckily, the compound tends to be abundant in older cannabis flowers. Storing high-THC cannabis strains will yield high amounts of Cannabinol, but then, this would mean vaping stale flowers, no one loves that!
So how do you store your flowers (for THC to degrade) without compromising their quality?
Place your storage containers in a warm, bright place. To maintain and enhance colour, aroma, flavour, and consistency, keep a relative humidity of between 59% to 63%.
Too high humidity levels will cause the flowers to produce molds while too low humidity (below 55%) will cause the trichomes to become brittle.
If you notice that your flower is drying too quickly, place them in an airtight container, then store them in a cool, dark place.
Still, brands are beginning to produce products with isolated CBN, and soon, it will be easier to get high-quality products rich in Cannabinol.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabinol
- Will It Get Me High?
One of the popular misconceptions is that products with a high concentration of this compound will always have no intoxicating effects.
While Cannabinol won’t cause psychoactive effects on its own, it’s thought to increase the euphoric effects of THC.
If you want to benefit from CANNABINOL without the risk of getting high, make sure to go for products with less THC.
- Will CBN Cause Sedative Effects?
Often referred to as the ‘sleepy’ cannabinoid, Cannabinol might not actually be sedating on its own.
In this old study, Cannabinol did not cause sleep in any of the participants.
So why do people associate it with sedative effects?
The theory is that older cannabis which is often high on Cannabinol, may also be high on terpenes. These terpenes and not CBN could be responsible for the sedative qualities.
In the above-mentioned study, it was also discovered that while CBN alone didn’t cause any sedative effects, THC did. But even more interesting is the fact that a combination of THC and CBN might have caused more drowsiness in the respondents.
This suggests that combining Cannabinol and Tetrahydrocannabinol may have synergistic benefits.
According to Dr Ethan Russo, Cannabinol is present in old cannabis flowers which have more sedating oxygenated sesquiterpenoids. This could be the reason why people often associate CBN with sedative effects.
- Is Cannabinol Legal?
It’s hard to talk about any cannabinoid without the issue of legality popping up.
CBN is a result of THC degradation, and THC is illegal in most states and countries. Cannabinol must be illegal too. Right?
It’s not that easy.
Unlike CBD and THC, Cannabinol isn’t listed in the schedule 1 controlled substances. Well, then this means it’s legal?
Not so fast.
CBN is an analog of THC and CBD; both listed as schedule 1 substances. Note in this case, we refer to CBD extract from marijuana and not hemp. Remember, CBD with less than 0.3% THC is federally legal in the US.
Because marijuana-based CBD and THC are schedule 1 substances, it could mean that selling or possessing CBN may lead to arrests and prosecution under the Federal Analogue Act of 1986.
So is CBN legal or not? The only reason marijuana-based products are prohibited in the USA is that they have more than 0.3% THC. This could make hemp-based CBN federally legal.
However, it’s better to check with state law as cannabis laws will differ across state lines.
What Is Cannabinol? – Take Away
Although not well understood as CBD and THC, Cannabinol was actually the first cannabinoid to be discovered.
It may not be psychoactive or sedative on its own, but it appears to amplify the effects of THC.
It’s abundant in aged cannabis and is formed after the degradation of THC. This means to get CBN, you just need to store your high-THC strain.
You can also get Cannabinol by consuming full-spectrum CBD oil, which has other cannabinoids, among them, CBN.