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What is CBN and how is it different from CBD?

What is CBN and how is it different from CBD?

If you’re still trying to process how signs for CBD products are popping everywhere from gas stations to convenience stores throughout the state of Massachusetts, get ready for another wave of over-the-top hype about CBN as the next miracle cure for insomnia. In addition to sharing the first two letters of their names, CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBN (Cannabinol) are both cannabinoids that suffer from the same lack of scientific evidence to prove their effectiveness. While critics can say the same thing about the THC in medical marijuana, THC has a much larger pool of anecdotal evidence to support it as an effective medicine for the treatment of diseases like Fibromyalgia as well as anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain.

At Revolutionary Clinics, we carry several products containing CBD that we recommend for different situations but at our core, we are medical marijuana dispensaries where THC is the primary cannabinoid in the vast majority of our products. In response to customer demand, we also carry blends of CBD and THC that we believe to be more effective than straight CBD or THC alone. We also stock our own CBN dominant tincture and are in the process of testing a new CBN vape product.


So what exactly is CBN and how is it different from CBD?

There are several ways to produce CBN in a lab environment. Dan Gillan, our VP of Product (and former Director of Extraction), has a very simple way to explain the foundation for how we make CBN:

THC + heat & time = CBN

Of course there’s a bit more to it, but unlike THC or CBD which can be extracted directly from the cannabis plant, CBN is essentially a post-processing technique OF an extraction. To put that in context that’s easy to understand, let’s think about simple sand. By itself, sand is inexpensive but when you apply heat to it and turn it into glass, it become infinitely more valuable. Now let’s refine the glassmaking process further by mixing in expensive lead with the sand. Instead of glass, the result is a higher quality product known as crystal. A similar rule applies for CBN only instead of sand and lead, Dan and his team apply specific heat and time parameters to THC material in order to yield a concentrated product known as CBN.

Just like crystal, CBN is more expensive than THC, CBD (or any other flower, pre-roll, concentrate, edible or topical containing any other cannabinoid for that matter) because of how much more time, effort and material goes into making it. Like the pearl inside an oyster (a simple analogy, we admit) THC and CBD can be extracted directly from the cannabis plant so the finished products made with it are much less expensive. CBD is also non-intoxicating due to the fact that it is a completely different chemical than THC, but because CBN is created from THC in most cases, it can contain some of THC’s psychoactive effects and benefits we’ll discuss in the next paragraph.


What is CBN good for?

Both Forbes and Psychology Today have recently published articles about CBN as a cure for insomnia. At Revolutionary Clinics, we share their enthusiasm for the game-changing potential of CBN, but as our in-house “BS Detector”, Dan Gillan regularly encourages us to pump our brakes.

“There is no compelling scientific evidence to support CBN as an effective tool for sleep,” Dan cautions. “What we do have at Revolutionary Clinics is a lot of anecdotal evidence from our patients as well as our staff that our CBN products help them to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. I’m one of those people, so while the scientist in me would certainly prefer some real scientific evidence to back up our claims, my own experiences along with the experiences of our patients help me feel good about what we’re doing.”

Revolutionary Clinics Training and Development Manager Andrew Elk offers a different perspective on the potential effectiveness of CBN as a sleep aid. “Anyone who has relit a stubbed out joint or cornered a bowl will tell you that cannabis that’s already been exposed to heat is going to bring on a high that’s more mellow,” Andrew explains. “The reason for that is the small amounts of CBN that’s been created within the burnt flower that gets into your lungs as you consume the rest of the material.”

As Dan mentioned earlier, THC + heat & time = CBN so Andrew is absolutely right. The difference is that Dan and his team perform this complicated extraction process in the sterile and precise confines of our production facility in Fitchburg. There, they are constantly learning and refining their process in order to produce the highest quality CBN as quickly and efficiently as possible to meet consumer demand. Presently, that demand has far outweighed our production capabilities which Dan and his team are working hard to improve. “We’re in an interesting place right now,” Dan explains. “We know our patients want this product and we know that our process and quality are excellent but we need to ramp up our production before we can start aggressively marketing it to our patients.”

By Dan’s best estimate, our CBN vape products should be available by late fall at all three of our dispensaries (once Central Square opens in October), provided they meet our strict quality standards. If you have any questions about the differences between CBN, CBD and THC or would like more information on how cannabis can improve your quality of life, please fill out the form on our website and we’ll get right back to you!

6 Responses

  1. Great quick read! Love this kind of documentation. A detail about the article i’d Like to emphasize: Honesty about the legitimacy of claims and elaborations on that is so important – I appreciate anything to detract from the tendency of people to end up with contrary arguments because “I read it somewhere pretty legit!” Transparency about what is fact and what is “hopefully maybe” is a great trait for an informational blog. So… good work Dan/Rev!

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