Lauded as the “CBD for sleep,” CBN’s relaxing benefits have been embraced by countless CBD veterans and hemp newbies alike. Sourcing this cannabinoid can be tricky, however, and many CBN users wonder if they’ve just ingested a synthetic substance. Yes, CBN is usually synthetic, but no, that doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means.
Is CBN synthetic? Quick Facts
- Yes, CBN is usually synthetic since it has been converted from another cannabinoid
- However, the enzymatic process used to convert CBN iscb mild and non-toxic
- CBN can be made from THC, CBD, or CBG
- Most CBN available online is from CBD
- Even though it’s technically synthetic, CBN is essentially as natural as CBD
1. What is the cannabinoid CBN?
Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs when THC oxidizes. Originally believed to be the dominant cannabinoid in cannabis, the discovery of THC downgraded CBC to the status of an oddity found in super-old weed until scientists started looking more into its unique benefits.
Today, CBN is widely used as a sleep aid despite a continuing lack of research supporting this indication. As testament to the power of anecdotal testimony, CBN consumers have simply convinced each other of this cannabinoid’s anti-insomnia utility by cobbling together their individual experiences.
Most research into CBN has been about other things, including its antimicrobial potential. Regardless of what the science has to say, CBN has made its way into the hemp cannabinoid pantheon as an even-more relaxing alternative to CBD.
2. What’s the difference between CBN and CBD?
Users generally report that CBN has similar effects to CBD except that they’re stronger and more soporific. Some users even report mild intoxication after using CBN, which would make sense given this cannabinoid’s inherent link to THC.
Even if it has some intoxication potential, though, CBN is clearly not as intoxicating as THC. As a result, CBN is closer to the category of fully non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBD and CBG even if it isn't exactly a perfect fit.
3. Is CBN man-made?
The vast majority of CBN sold online is indeed synthetic (man-made). It has been synthesized from CBD or CBG, a simple, harmless process that noneless fits the definition of “synthesis” since it takes a substance and combines it with another to make something new.
It’s possible to derive CBN from THC, but doing so is neither cost-effective nor particularly legal. CBN derived from THC, though, is the only truly “natural” form of this otherwise slightly tweaked cannabinoid.
4. Is CBN a synthetic cannabinoid?
Technically, CBN is usually a synthetic cannabinoid, but it is nonetheless in an entirely different category than dangerous cannabinoid-like drugs such as K2 and Spice. In the one case, you have a natural derivative of cannabis that is nonetheless usually synthesized for economic reasons, and in the other, you have entirely artificial drugs that cause intense, uncomfortable intoxication.
In the future, new forms of CBN synthesis may become available, but CBN will never be naturally occurring in hemp flower. Instead, it will always be necessary to allow THC to naturally oxidize into CBN or make this cannabinoid from another hemp substance.
5. What types of synthetic CBN are there?
There are two main types of synthetic CBN on the market:
- CBN derived from CBD
- CBN derived from CBG
The end products of both processes are exactly the same, and CBD and CBG are about equally abundant in hemp. It doesn’t really matter which cannabinoid your CBN comes from as long as it was derived using a natural enzymatic process.
It’s technically possible to synthesize CBN from non-cannabis substances, but doing so would be even more unreasonably labor-intensive than deriving CBN from THC. Producing CBN is inherently problematic, making newer, easier solutions inevitable.
6. Is synthetic CBN dangerous?
As long as it was derived from a natural cannabinoid using cannabis enzymes, CBN shouldn’t be any more dangerous than the cannabinoid it was made from. Variables enter the equation whenever human hands process a substance, but a similar level of processing is necessary to isolate any cannabinoid.
What you need to watch out for are synthetic cannabinoid products labeled as CBN. As CBN becomes a popular cannabinoid for sleep, scammers will try to cloak their same-old K2 and Spice garbage under a different name.
Purely synthetic cannabinoids are inherently dangerous. Derived from government experiments designed to make THC more potent, synthetic cannabinoids like THCO and HHC can be profoundly harmful, and they’re the basis of modern “fake weed” products.
7. Is CBN the same thing as THC?
Even though CBN originally came from THC, these two cannabinoids are quite different. Experts estimate the psychoactive potential of CBN at approximately one-quarter that of THC, providing a mild, yet familiar, alternative to THC’s often-intense effects.
THC and CBN are also different in terms of the methods used to produce these two cannabinoids. While THC is almost always naturally derived naturally from cannabis, CBN is almost always synthesized from other cannabinoids.
8. Is CBN better than CBD for sleep?
Hemp smokers generally report that CBN is even more relaxing than CBD, helping them sleep better. CBD is already widely used as a sleep aid, and CBN is often combined with CBD, not used on its own.
Neither CBN or CBD, though, have been officially recognized as sleep aids. Research has been conducted into CBD and sleep, but despite extensive public interest in the matter, there still isn’t very much concrete evidence of the potential soporific or anti-insomnia benefits of CBN.
9. How long does CBN stay in your system?
Like CBD, CBN is a lipid compound, meaning that it stays in your body for a while after ingestion. If you only use a little bit of CBN once, it might clear your system within 2-3 days, but habitual cannabinoid users can still test positive in urinalysis for up to 30 days after their last hits.
The source of the CBN you use shouldn’t affect the amount of time it stays in your body. Whether the CBN you ingested naturally came from oxidized THC or it was synthesized from CBD, it will clear your system in the same amount of time.