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CBN – That Other Cannabinoil


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Aug 30, 2008
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CBN – That Other Cannabinoid

Since the isolation and identification of THC in 1963, it has become the most well-known, if not
the most notorious, cannabinoid in cannabis. Another of the cannabinoids that has received
some recent attention in the press is CBD. Like THC, CBD has demonstrated medicinal qualities
that are just now being discovered. However, there is a third cannabinoid that has not been
garnering as much attention. This is CBN. CBN is the third most commonly found cannabinoid
in MMJ. There is plenty of information and disinformation in the literature about THC. CBD is
well represented in the literature. CBN, however, seems to be lost in the shuffle. This article
will detail CBN strictly.
CBN is a natural cannabinoid that is produced by the cannabis plant. Of the three mentioned
cannabinoids, the cannabis plant produces CBN only in trace quantities. The interesting thing
about CBN is that it is also the natural decomposition byproduct of THC. MMJ that is exposed
to light and air over a prolonged period of time will have its THC slowly decompose into CBN.
Eventually, all of the THC will decompose to CBN.
With this in mind, CBN can be used as a qualitative measure of the age of Medical Marijuana
(MMJ). A good rule of thumb is, the more CBN in the MMJ, the older the MMJ medicine is. In
order to know the THC, CBD and CBN values in a batch of MMJ, the MMJ center must test
their product. This is the only way that the center, or the patient, will know these values and be
able to best use this information to discern the age and potency of their medicine. Without
testing, the center and user do not possess full information regarding their medicine.
It may be hard to believe, but CBN was the first cannabinoid that was isolated, in 1899. Its
chemical formula was also postulated around that time. It was believed that this scientist had
an old batch of cannabis and that most of the THC had decomposed to CBN; that is why it was
the first chemical isolated from cannabis. Strangely, researchers did not do any medical testing
with this compound until the 1930’s. And, of the three major cannabinoids, CBN is the least
Since the 1930’s, particularly with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the late
1980’s, more medical testing involving CBN has been performed. Recent studies have
demonstrated a breadth of medicinal purposes for CBN. One study has show that CBN may be
effective against psoriasis. It has been known for some time that some of the other
cannabinoids demonstrate antibacterial properties. CBN has been shown to have this property.
More importantly, CBN has been show to be equally as effective as THC and CBD in this
capacity. Compared to THC, CBN has been shown to be far less psychoactive. This further
lends credence to the medical possibilities of CBN. Adding CBN to medicinal preparations with
THC have been shown to be equally effective as THC alone. The bonus is that the preparation is
less psychoactive due to the presence of CBN.
The most important revelation proven by medical studies on CBN is the refutation of a
condition called “cannabinol psychosis.” As many journal articles state, this pharmacological
reaction “no longer seem to elicit much interest.” The reason is that this drug reaction
simply does not exist.
As with all of the cannabinoids, CBN demands further medical study. Additionally, rather than
testing with solely CBN, tests should be conducted with cannabis of known cannabinoid
concentration. This way the synergistic effects of all of the cannabinoids can be better studied

This document is for informational purposes only. CannLabs has researched the chemical
and medical literature in order to provide you with the latest and most accurate
information regarding Medical Marijuana (MMJ). CannLabs has attempted to condense
and communicate this information as precisely and concisely as possible. However, there
may be errors. For further information and specific information, CannLabs recommends
that the reader become versed in the chemical and medical literature pertaining to MMJ

Allan Bumgartner
Chemist, CannLabs

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