Cannabinol is the Dark Horse Cannabinoid You Never Heard Of

Independent states have made cannabis legal for medical and recreational use, the December 2018 Farm Bill made growing hemp legal, and Netflix documentaries tout the value of cannabidiol (CBD) for countless diseases.

The tide of compelling research in favor of cannabis is growing beyond the stereotypes of yesteryear. One particular compound called cannabinol will soon lead the charge.

CBN Cannabinol is a cannabinoid from cannabis isolated and researched for pain management and sleep support beyond CBD.

The current cost of cannabinol is around $80,000 per kilogram [1], which makes it rare to find on store shelves, cost prohibitive, but highly effective.

What is Cannabinol?

Cannabinol (CBN) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in small amounts in cannabis, but mostly in aged cannabis plants [2]. CBN content grows through oxidation and degradation.

The research on CBN is still scarce, but it seems cannabis ages like a fine wine if your goal is to harvest cannabinol specifically.

Most cannabis users to take advantage of CBN do so by simply smoking the cannabis flower, but for many people this is off limits due to the THC (not to mention the multi-year wait for oxidation to break down into CBN).

Thus, for the time being cannabinol is not commonly used, but as we will explore in the next section, the CBN benefits and science are compelling.

Cannabinol: What Does the Science Say?

Despite the rarity of cannabinol in cannabis discussion, the compound was isolated and studied in animals as early as 1975 [3]. Human studies followed in 1981 [4].

Purported benefits of cannabinol include the following:

  • Pain management
  • Supports restorative sleep
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-cancer

Some of these have evidence to support the claims while others do not.

If you read other posts about CBN [5][6], you will consistently see the comparison of 5 mg CBN to 10 mg dose of diazepam (a prescription drug sedative). This seems untrue.

No studies compare cannabinol with diazepam. There are two studies that compare cannabidiol and in each case the support for CBD as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) compound are validated [7][8].

CBD is not the same thing as CBN, however.

Weeding through (ha!) the literature on CBN yields far less than any scientifically-minded individual might like.

One isolated study in Pharmacology found that CBN alone produced sensations of relaxation and calm, but not drunk or dizzy experiences that some people have with THC [9].

This may provide some early evidence that CBN is helpful for supporting restorative sleep without the psychoactive effects of THC.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabinol stimulates activity with the CB2 receptor, which triggers apoptosis (cancer cell death) and inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines [10].

From this evidence, we see possible anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory support from cannabinol.

Anecdotes and Cannabinol Reviews

Of course, scientific literature cannot tell us the whole story about cannabinol especially if it is not well studied.

The experiences from other individuals who use CBN can give us a better understanding of what to expect.

One user said:

CBN isolate is a godsend…I combine CBN and CBD in my vape and after not too long I am nodding off to pass out. If you use CBD for anxiety or sleep and it’s not quite working the way you had hoped, CBN is the next one to try!” [11]

Another tried a 1:1 ratio of CBD and CBN and said:

I tried…1:1 CBD / CBN vape (with a small amount of THC). It had a small but noticeable pro-sleep effect, but I woke up feeling dumb…I might try to get my hands on pure CBN drops, so that I can apportion more carefully and not have what I expect was a counteractive stimulant effect from the CBD, but the 1:1 vape for me was definitely a failure.” [12]

As with anything, there will “hits” and “misses” depending on the person. Some people swear by CBN (whether via isolate products or vape) and others have poor experiences.

How to Consume Cannabinol

The current pricing of cannabinol isolated (or extracted) makes it cost prohibitive so there are few products with this compound alone.

There are a few products (as of January 2019) from brands like

  • Mary’s Medicinals (vape with CBD:CBN) Somewhat trustworthy brand.
  • Muskoka CBD (CBN isolate) Not trustworthy (low price capsule product. No third party testing.)
  • A Friend of a Friend (CBN isolate) Not trustworthy (low price capsule product. No third party testing.)


Currently vaping is the best mode of administration for CBN, but as extraction gets more efficient and prices go down, we hope to see CBN tinctures (like CBD tinctures) and other bioavailable products.

Is CBN Legal?

The CBN legal status is currently murky in the same way that CBD is. The United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs from 1961 (and further amendments) says nothing about CBN.

Most countries do not regulate CBN, but due to the source of cannabinol (cannabis), it can become a gray area quickly.

Cannabinol is too new to have any formal regulation, but because CBN is developed from degraded THC, that may add more complexity down the road.

Waiting for Cannabinol CBN

For those who are compelled to try cannabis-based products, cannabinol may be the next frontier for optimizing aspects of mental and physical performance.

The product line is not as robust as CBD or THC currently, but cannabinol vape cartridges make it possible to start sooner than later with potentially powerful consequences.

As big believers in the power of plants on Earth, we are eager to see more cannabinoids like CBN find uses that upgrade human consciousness and performance.


  1. This comes from wholesale distributor quotes for manufacturing CBN products (CBN tinctures, CBN capsules etc.)