CBN (Cannabinol) : Everything You Need To Know

CBN Cannabinol

Cannabinol has long been touted as the cannabinoid that makes you feel lazy. Here, we review Cannabinol (CBN), how it interacts with other cannabinoids, and its effects.

Ever wonder why cannabis makes some people super lazy, yet others claim it gives them energy? Maybe your marijuana has higher levels of the cannabinoid cannabinol. Read below to find out how to keep CBN out of your cannabis.

My First CBN Experience

Way back in my college days, my friend approached me once with an intriguing proposition. He told me that he had an eighth of weed that was over a year old. The herb was originally his sister’s, but she was not coming back for it any longer. Not sure if the stale bud would still “work”, he sold it to me for $10.

I couldn’t say no to this bargain, so I gladly took the year-old ganja from my friend, expecting it to be a little less strong, but figured it would get the job done. After rolling up a joint and taking a few hits with a friend, I instantly was surprised, as this high was not like anything I had felt before.

I certainly felt a psychoactive sensation, but something about it felt a bit different. As a young adult eager to try new experiences, I reveled in this new sensation, which gave me a feeling of giddy euphoria. I also felt a body high that was truly unlike anything I had felt before.

As a physics major who loves questioning the mysteries of the universe, I typically prefer more creative sativas that get my mind thinking. While I do enjoy the smoke of indicas as well, I typically find myself not noticing the body high as much, which led me to prefer sativas. This strain was different, however; The body-numbing and sedated sensation felt with this year-old weed was undeniable.


Couch Locked Stoner - CBN

Cannabinol could be behind what causes the “catatonic” couch lock


After my friend and I giggled inconceivably over a series of disconnected ramblings, we finally decided on a movie to watch and entered a borderline catatonic state for the next hour or so. After the high was over, my friend admitted that he was completely out of it.

While I overall had a great experience, my friend thought it was too much, as it left him feeling groggy and dazed. This could be described as a very lazy high. I agreed that it was a fun time, but certainly not what I wanted to feel every day.

I specifically remember being surprised as to how high this strain made me feel. I had a high tolerance to THC at the time, as I was a regular smoker. At the time, I didn’t understand what was so magically different about this mystery weed that was over a year old. So what made this weed so special?

After years of contemplation, cannabinol is the simplest explanation that makes sense. Perhaps the strain seemed so potent because my body had not built up a high cannabinol tolerance yet. After we review what cannabinol is, how it is produced, and how it makes us feel, we will see that this description matches perfectly with what me and my friend had experienced.

What is CBN?

Cannabinol, or CBN, is a cannabinoid that is naturally produced in the cannabis plant over time. First, CBGA is produced, which eventually can create three different cannbinoids, THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. These then break down to the more common THC, CBD, and CBC.

CBN cannabinoid

CBN can be produced in two different manners. Either THCA breaks down into THC and then CBN, or THCA becomes CBNA followed by CBN. While most of the cannabinoids are formed from their acid precursor, most CBN is produced through THC degradation.

While understanding the ways in which all of the cannabinoids are created might not seem necessary for the average smoker, this knowledge teaches us a lot about CBN and the cannabis plant as a whole. Most importantly, we learn that THC naturally breaks down into CBN over time, whenever exposed to heat, UV light, or oxygen.

Looking at the chemical structure of CBN, we see that it only differs from THC very slightly. In general, THC breaks down into CBN over time, so we could actually get an estimate of how old the cannabis plant is by measuring its CBN levels. While CBN levels cannot tell you an exact age of the bud, it can be expected that older strains would have relatively higher CBN levels.

Protip: Leave your bud in an airtight container away from excessive heat, light, or air to avoid CBN production.

If the cannabis is not cured properly, more THC will be degraded into CBN. As such, recently cured bud that is high in CBN is often considered to be of lesser quality.

Simply put, a grower who lets their bud harvest for longer will have more cannabinol. If a grower is looking for bud with high CBN content, they should wait until the trichomes start to turn a yellow/amber color. Most growers, however, look to maximize THC and would not want to wait this long.

Cannabinol is a CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist, meaning that it activates both of these receptors, similar to THC. However, much is still unknown on how cannabinol functions differently than THC.

The boiling point of CBN is 365 °F (185 °C), which is a bit higher than THC. Users vaporizing above this temperature can expect to notice the effects of CBN, if enough is present.

Effects of CBN

Some say cannabinol is non-psychotropic, while others claim is merely less psychoactive than THC, being no more than 10% as potent. What is certain is that cannabinol is highly sedative, as it provides a narcotic body high leaving you couch-locked.


CBN Couch Lock

A failed Australian anti-cannabis campaign showcased a “Stoner Sloth” who was notoriously lazy and incapable of work. Perhaps he was smoking too much CBN…


Cannabinol also is notorious for leaving people feeling groggy, dizzy, or confused. This, in combination with the decreased levels of THC can often leave people feeling disappointed, as they were expecting to feel more of a high.

You can see why we refer to cannabinol as the lazy stoner’s cannabinoid. As the the cannabis community continues to break down the stereotype of what it means to smoke marijuana, it is no surprise to learn that most people do not seek after the high given by cannabinol.

While CBN causes sedation, this does not imply that indicas have more CBN.

Many false overgeneralizations are often made with cannabis. For example, even the experts at SC Labs and Weedmaps imply that cannabinol is what gives you a body high, so indicas have more cannabinol. As there are hundreds cannabinoids and terpenes, there are multiple factors that go into determining how a strain will make you feel. Indicas typically have a body effect from higher myrcene and linalool levels, not just cannabinol.

Some people claim that edibles have more of a sedated or body effect, since by the time that the THC gets absorbed throughout the body, more is broken down into CBN. This theory has yet to be confirmed, but maybe there is some truth to it.

Medical Uses of CBN

Many of the cannabinoids, including CBN have been shown to have antibacterial properties, making it a good ingredient for topical products.

Anyone curious to know the toxicity of cannabinoids such as CBN can be assured that they are very safe, as the LD50 of CBN is 13500 mg/kg for mice. Nicotine has an LD50 of 3 mg/kg, to put things into perspective.

It might be no surprise that CBN has pain relief characteristics due to its body-numbing sensations. Research also has discovered that THC and CBN activate capsaicin-sensitive nerves, which is independent of its CB1/CB2 activation properties. This mechanism may or may not relate to their analgesic properties.


CBN and capsaicin

CBN can actually mimic the same effects caused by capsaicin in foods like the chile peppers. Notice how touching a hot paper can make you feel numb in a certain area? CBN could help mimic this sensation across your entire body and cause your body to feel a bit “number”.


Evidence suggests that many cannabinoids, including cannabinol, have anti-inflammatory properties, as they have been shown to protect against oxidative cell death. The fact that cannabinol acts on the CB2 receptors also suggests that it could have applications for autoimmune disorders.

Scientists have performed experiments with rats to determine that cannabinol is an appetite stimulant. This study was hopeful that cannabinol-based medication might be a useful substitute for THC, since they consider CBN to be non-psychotropic.


CBN Gluocoma

Cannabinol could help with conditions like Gluocoma, which stems from intraocular pressure (pressure within the eye). Ironically, cannabinol can also lead to ocular toxicity. Both of these findings suggest an intimate relationship between cannabinol and tissue in the eye.


Many of the cannabinoids, including cannabinol, have been shown to have anti-convulsive properties, potentially making it useful for epilepsy patients. Also, cannabinol reduces intraocular pressure, yet has ocular toxicity issues.

Much hype has grown out of the potential benefits of cannabinoids as cancer medication. Many of the cannabinoids, including CBN, have been shown to reduce cancer cell growth in lungs.

Overall, a lot is still to be learned about CBN. Often times, research is avoided, as CBN produces the sedated effect which has a negative stigma.

CBN may have many other benefits, based upon its interactions with the CB1 and CB2 receptors or other unknown mechanisms. It may also help stimulate bone growth for osteoporosis.

Products with CBN

Most people have stayed away from cannabinol, as others seem to have similar medicinal values without being so sedating. However, this sedated effect could be sought after by some, especially those with insomnia. Fortunately, Mary’s Medicinals produces CBN-rich capsules and patches.

For people looking for high CBN levels, the best bet may be to simply let your marijuana go stale, as the THC will degrade to cannabinol. However, most people will not prefer this high, as it can be quite disorienting. Not sure what strain you are looking for? Try using our Strain Genie to find the perfect strain for you! Patients with insomnia should be sure to choose one of our strains from the Sleep category.