Cannabinol, or CBN, is a phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. First isolated in 1896, it is commonly used by individuals for sleep, anxiety, inflammation, and pain relief. It is a natural product of Δ9THC oxidation. So as Δ9THC degrades in the cannabis sativa flower, CBN concentration increases. While formal studies are somewhat lacking on CBN, it is still the most studied cannabinoid after Δ9THC and CBD. It is primarily used by individuals with sleep disorders, anxiety issues, and those with various types of pain and inflammation issues, including both nerve pain and other forms of chronic pain.

In addition to reports citing CBN as a sleep aid, cannabinol has also been researched with new clinical work underway for its potential use related to the naturally occurring cannabinoid’s pain, inflammation, and anti-bacterial qualities.  CBN is often paired with cannabidiol (CBD) and other phytochemicals like terpenes in formulating products, as studies and anecdotal evidence suggest CBN’s effects are stronger when paired with other cannabinoids.

CBN’s molecular formula is C21H26O2 and its molecular weight is 310.47 g/mol.  In contrast to THC, cannabinol has no double bond isomers nor stereoisomers.


There are a couple important items to note before proceeding ahead:

  1. Cannabinol is the third most studied cannabinoid, but formal scientific studies are still lacking. This is not because cannabinol does not show medicinal potential. Studies are lacking because cannabinol has been illegal for the last 90 years, making studies extremely hard to get approval for. The lack of studies on CBN does not mean it is not effective. It simply means we don’t currently have enough formal studies to back the overwhelming anecdotal evidence supporting cannabinol as an effective compound for a myriad of issues.
  2. When we report feedback from our customers, it should be understood that 3Chi products contain more than just CBN, and these effects should be considered exclusive to our products. Scientific tests use isolated CBN, which may not be as effective as a broad spectrum blend, which we provide. You also would not be able to assume dosing is the same between 3Chi and any other CBN products as they will not contain the same ratios of CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds that aid with the overall effectiveness of CBN.


CBN with CB1/CB2 Receptors

Cannabinol is a weak CB1 partial agonist, with approximately 10% of the activity of D9-THC [2][4], which can give cannabinol the slight intoxicating or relaxing feeling. Being an agonist, CBN can also increase appetite [6]. For reference, CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and nervous system, but can also be found in low concentrations in the heart, liver, fat tissue, stomach, and testis[3]. 

CBN is an agonist for CB2 receptors, which are found in peripheral immune-related organs and in neurons [4]. 

CBN for Sleep

Limited formal scientific research exists for CBN as a sleep aid. However, out of all the reasons people take cannabinol, sleep is the number one reason we see. Effective doses for sleep with our products (which are broad-spectrum CBN and not just CBN isolate) are reported to be as low as 1-6 mg of CBN when vaporized and 4-66 mg if taken orally.

Studies report that more than 30% of the US population suffers from sleep deprivation or low-quality sleep, resulting in numerous health issues. Estimates suggest 10% of the population suffers from chronic insomnia, a severe sleep disorder.  One study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that approximately 25% of Americans each year develop acute insomnia that lasts for days or weeks.

These numbers, along with our initial customer reporting, suggest CBN, when paired with the proper other cannabinoids and terpenes, could be a very beneficial product for tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people around the world.

CBN as a Sedative

An informal study from doctors at Steep Hill Labs cited CBN as being an effective sedative, with twice the potency of prescription diazepam. It’s important to note that Steep Hill Labs has since pulled this study, claiming they have formal scientific papers forthcoming in regards to cannabinol. As of this writing, there have been no updated papers published by Steep Hill Labs regarding this topic we are aware of.

In existing studies, cannabinol was shown to abolish the corneal reflex of rabbits and induce catatonia analgesia and prolongation of pentobarbital sleeping time in mice [12]. Cannabinol alone showed active in multiple motor function tests, but less potent than 9-THC. When combined with CBN, 9-THC was more potent for anti motor functions [12]. A study on cannabinoids increasing anesthesia agents gave 40 and 80 mg/kg of cannabinol to mice in addition to ketamine or pentobarbitone anesthesia. This test showed CBN significantly enhanced the anesthesia potency[13]. 

In reports from customers, CBN is a very effective sedative and has been able to replace some individuals’ use of prescription sedatives.

CBN for Pain and Inflammation

CBN, similar to opioids, inhibits adenylyl cyclase, activates potassium channels, or reduces calcium channel conductance (Reggio, 2010), resulting in suppression of neurotransmission of pain [7].

In our feedback from customers, many individuals have experienced life-changing results from their use of high-CBN extracts for chronic pain issues. These individuals tend to have tried high-CBD products prior to taking CBN, which suggests that cannabinol may be more effective only for certain individuals.

Unfortunately, feedback is limited due to cannabinol being a relatively new product. So at this time, we do not have any indicators that might help an individual know whether a high-CBN or high-CBD product would be better for them for pain and/or inflammation.

Vascular Effects of Cannabinol

CBN was shown to relax hepatic arteries in rats, and also was shown to reduce IOP (intraocular pressure) in cats when applied topically paired with CBG [5].

Cannabinol as an Anti-Spastic

In a study with 18 six week old mice, each received a cannabinol dose of 5 mg/kg/day in a 25 g mouse (.125 mg) for 28 days. CBN showed to delay symptom onset, without affecting survival. It is possible that cannabinol acts as an anti-spastic agent, and masks the early symptoms of SODI ALS [8].  

CBN as an Anticonvulsant

When given to mice against an electroshock test, cannabinol showed as an anticonvulsant. 

CBN as an Antibacterial

Cannabinol was shown to be effective against MRSA [1][8].

CBN for Withdrawal Symptoms

In a study where 80 mg of cannabinol was given to morphine-addicted mice, cannabinol was shown to inhibit the withdrawal symptoms [10].

On a human level, studies are lacking. However, anecdotally, 3Chi customers report successfully using our high-CBN products to quit opioids, smoking, and other addictive chemicals.


CBN exists naturally as a byproduct of the natural oxidative degradation process of THC. However, in nature, this process is slow and often results in cannabis flower and extracts with only a tiny fraction of CBN (<1%).

In order to create CBN isolates or high-CBN products, a synthesis reaction (chemical or otherwise) or extraction technique (e.g. chromatography) needs to be performed.

This is extremely important to know, as the CBN products you ingest could be derived from natural ways (e.g. extraction and chromatography), a forced acceleration of natural processes (e.g. UV light administration), or by way of syntheses utilizing undesirable chemicals (e.g. toluene, sulfur, iodine, etc).

These unnatural syntheses can be unsafe if made and purified incorrectly. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are only consuming a cannabinol extract that has been properly purged of all solvents and chemicals before ingesting it.


Scientific studies on CBN in humans have shown no serious side effects. In addition, we have received no reports of any serious side effects from our users. While CBN seems to be safe based on all existing information, even in doses of 50mg or more, long term studies on safety and dosing of CBN do not currently exist. Therefore, the use of CBN is still experimental on your part.


Cannabinol is still considered a “drug”, like delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC), in some parts of the world. That’s because it can be mildly to moderately sedating, depending on the person, and can also be intoxicating.

Studies on CBN differ on the level of intoxication. Some report no intoxication while others report 1/10th the level of intoxication observed with Δ9THC. Our customers also verify these findings: most feel some low level of “intoxication” while some feel nothing.

It’s also important to know that the “type” of intoxication is different. If you take CBN to get “high” feelings like with Δ9THC, you will be disappointed. And while everyone is different, CBN does not seem to offer the same euphoric effects of Δ9THC. It may make the effects of THC more intense if used together, but its effects, alone or with equal or smaller amounts of other cannabinoids, tend to be more “slowing”. These feelings typically arrive in a natural, gradual onset of relaxing and/or sleepy feelings.

Concentration on some tasks can be difficult when using CBN, like working on a phone or computer, as the mind may seek to stay in a relaxed mode. Forcing your way through that feeling in order to do something like work long amounts of time on a computer or phone can cause headaches in some individuals.

You should never operate machinery while taking CBN, just to be safe.


Possibly. We have had users both pass and fail drug tests while using cannabinol-dominant products, and for the longest time we couldn’t figure out why. But then a researcher in Utah found how CBN can cause a false positive in some drug tests, even at low quantities.

So while it’s not due to the actual presence of THC or its metabolites, we now know that CBN can cause a failed drug test, depending on the test administered. Because of this, if you work for an employer with an absolute zero-tolerance policy, you should consider avoiding the use of CBN products.


There are a lot of early indicators that CBN is an extremely safe and beneficial cannabinoid, but more studies need to be done. The effectiveness of CBN seems tied to the co-administration of other hemp compounds, like cannabinoids and terpenes. However, this also needs more study.




[1] 3/12/2019 Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug; 163(7): 1344–1364. PMCID: PMC3165946 doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x PMID: 21749363 

[2] Izzo, A. A., Borrelli, F., Capasso, R., Di Marzo, V., & Mechoulam, R. (2009). Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: new therapeutic opportunities from an ancient herb. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 30(10), 515–527.doi:10.1016/ 

[3] Handbook of Cannabis Roger Pertwee 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199662685 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662685.001.0001 Chapter 8 Effects of Phytocannabinoids on Neurotransmission in Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems Bela Szabo DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662685.003.0008

[4] Handbook of Cannabis Roger Pertwee 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199662685 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662685.001.0001

Chapter 6 Known Pharmacological Actions of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and of Four Other Chemical Constituents of Cannabis that Activate Cannabinoid Receptors. Roger G. Pertwee, Maria Grazia Cascio DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662685.003.0006

[5] Handbook of Cannabis Roger Pertwee 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199662685 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662685.001.0001 Chapter 11 Phytocannabinoids and the Cardiovascular System Saoirse E. O’Sullivan DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662685.003.0011.

[6] Jonathan A. Farrimond & Benjamin J. Whalley & Claire M. Williams. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns Received: 24 June 2011 /Accepted: 19 March 2012 / Published online: 28 April 2012. Springer-Verlag 2012 Psychopharmacology (2012) 223:117–129 DOI 10.1007/s00213-012-2697-x

[7] Mitchell, C. M., El Jordi, O., & Yamamoto, B. K. (2018). Inflammatory mechanisms of abused drugs. Advances in Neurotoxicology. doi:10.1016/bs.ant.2018.10.006 2.3 Cannabinoids 2.3.1 Mechanism of action

[8] Weydt, P., Hong, S., Witting, A., Möller, T., Stella, N., & Kliot, M. (2005). Cannabinol delays symptom onset in SOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice without affecting survival. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, 6(3), 182–184. doi:10.1080/14660820510030149

[9] Appendino, G., Gibbons, S., Giana, A., Pagani, A., Grassi, G., Stavri, M. Rahman, M. M. (2008). Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study. Journal of Natural Products, 71(8), 1427–1430. doi:10.1021/np8002673

[10] Chesher, G. B., & Jackson, D. M. (1985). The quasi-morphine withdrawal syndrome: Effect of cannabinol, cannabidiol, and tetrahydrocannabinol. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 23(1), 13–15. doi:10.1016/0091-3057(85)90122-4

[11] Karler, R., Cely, W., & Turkanis, S. A. (1973). The anticonvulsant activity of cannabidiol and cannabinol. Life Sciences, 13(11), 1527–1531. doi:10.1016/0024-3205(73)90141-0

[12] Takahashi, R. N., & Karniol, I. G. (1975). Pharmacological interaction between cannabinol and ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Psychopharmacologia, 41(3), 277–284. doi:10.1007/bf00428937

[13] Frizza, J., Chesher, G. B., Jackson, D. M., Malor, R., & Starmer, G. A. (1977). The effect of 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, and cannabinol on the anesthesia induced by various anesthetic agents in mice. Psychopharmacology, 55(1), 103–107. doi:10.1007/bf00432824