CBD vs. CBN: What’s The Difference?

CBD and CBN are two of over a hundred different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Because both of these molecules carry their own therapeutic effects and interact with our endocannabinoid system differently, they are recommended for a wide array of conditions. While CBD has recently undergone something of a renaissance in the medical community, its cannabinoid cousin, CBN, is starting to gain scientific traction as more research is discovering its medicinal properties. But what exactly is CBN? And how does it interact with our endocannabinoid system? Does it carry psychoactive effects? 

At CannaCulture Collective, we carry an assortment of CBD- and CBN-infused products that vary in ratioand potency. From nighttime gummies to pain-relieving tinctures, our up-to-date online menu will be your one-stop-shop for all cannabis products and accoutrements. For those who want to speak with a budtender, feel free to stop by our San Jose dispensary or give us a call at (408) 264-7877. We also deliver in and around San Jose and Santa Clara County. Read up on how delivery works here at CannaCulture.

The Endocannabinoid System

To understand how CBD and CBN work in our body, we first need to examine how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions. Discovered in 1988 after research into how ∆9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD) interacted with the body’s systems, the ECS has only recently gained increased awareness within the medical community. Researchers found that the ECS acts as a sort of executive system that regulates all of our body’s other systems in a continual effort to maintain homeostasis.[1] The ECS is composed of two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors primarily occur in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mostly on peripheral nerves related to the immune system.[2] Because CB1 receptors are more abundant in the human body, research into CB1 receptors is vastly ahead of that on CB2. These receptors send and receive reactionary messages from the brain to affect different changes in the body. They affect mood, memory, appetite, and many other physiological and psychological functions. Simply put, the ECS is the bridge between the mind and the body. For instance, studies have shown that the ECS plays a regulatory role in connecting the brain and the endocrine system by activating or inhibiting the release of cortisol.[3] Cortisol is the stress hormone, and the ECS downregulates its levels to calm the body and still the mind. ECS upregulates cortisol when external pressures call for a fight or flight response. This discovery is just one of the many taking the medical cannabis industry by storm. With medicinal and recreational legalization of cannabis sweeping the nation, research and funding into other functions and facets of the ECS is ever-expanding. 

About CBD

CBD is popularly known as the other, non-psychoactive half of the cannabis plant. After the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD federally, a national market for CBD-infused products grew exponentially year after year. But how exactly does this natural cannabinoid interact with our physiology? Unlike ∆9-THC, CBD does not produce that notorious “high” feeling in the consumer. Rather, CBD is known for its pain-relieving and relaxation-inducing effects and can comein the form of vapes, tinctures, and edibles. ∆9-THC has a high binding affinity with the CB1 receptor – the receptor typically associated with our brain and central nervous system. This connection between 9-THC and our CB1 receptor is the reason behind cannabis’s psychoactive, euphoric effects.[4] However, CBD has a low binding affinity, if any, with the CB1 receptor and binds predominantly with the CB2 receptor – the periphery receptors that are spread around our body. This relationship between the CBD compound and CB2 receptors was shown to inhibit immune cell migration, which likely explains CBD’s therapeutic effect in treating neuroinflammatory, neurodegenerative, and chronic pain conditions.[4][5] To engage the CB1 receptor, CBD products are often ratioed with trace amounts of ∆9-THC for a more balanced endocannabinoid response.


Studies have shown that CBD is remarkable at treating:[5][6]

  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Stress 
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic Strokes
  • Acute pain
  • Inflammatory pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • And many more!

About CBN

Cannabinol (CBN) is a lesser-known cannabinoid that has slowly started to make a name for itself in treating sleep disorders. When researchers were first studying CBD and ∆9-THC’s effect on the human brain, the first cannabinoid discovered was CBN, so they incorrectly attributed cannabis’s psychoactive effects to CBN.[7]

 CBN is often found in older, more dried-out cannabis flowers. The saying that old weed makes you sleep is true in part thanks to CBN. There are two ways to extract the CBN molecule from the cannabis plant. Both paths begin with Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) – the precursor cannabinoid to CBD and THC – being converted to THCA through a synthase enzyme. THCA is what cannabis is at its current state right off the stem. The THCA molecule can do one of two things at this point: undergo heat or be left alone.[8]

Exposed to a heat source such as a lighter, the THCA is decarboxylated and converts into THC. If consumed at this point in the process, you would achieve the classic “high” advertised with cannabis. However, if you leave the decarboxylated cannabis alone for a duration of time, the THC molecules slowly convert to CBN. 

Now, the other path to producing CBN is by taking the THCA molecule, and instead of exposing it to heat, leaving it alone for a duration of time. To make CBN, growers typically keep the plant under UV light long after it is ready to harvest. During this time, the THCA molecule morphs into CBNA, the direct precursor to CBN. If the heat is now introduced to the CBNA molecule, the molecule changes to CBN.  


When paired with other cannabinoids like CBD and THC, CBN can:

  • Treat insomnia[9] 
  • Generate a mild buzz
  • Make you drowsy
  • Deepen relaxation

CBD & CBN at CannaCulture

For those interested in products infused with CBD, be sure to check out:

  • Wyld Peach 2:1 CBD Hybrid Gummies: these naturally flavored gummies are packed with 10mg CBD and 5mg THC to provide a relaxing, mellow experience for those who want a balanced high or need pain relief. Mixed with a hybrid terpene profile, these gummies are perfect for the afternoon or evening – or for when chronic pain strikes.
  • Proof CBD Rich – 20:1 Tincture: this CBD-heavy tincture provides 10mg CBD and 0.5mg THC per dose. It is the perfect way to accurately measure a dose for those who need the reliable effects of CBD on the go. This tincture is great for any activity and can be used multiple times throughout the day. 

For those interested in the soporific effects of CBN, be sure to see if we have these on our menu:

  • Camino 5:1 Midnight Berry Gummies: with 5mg THC and 1mg CBN, these gummies can settle your mind before lulling you gently to sleep. Made with relaxing terpenes, chamomile, and lavender oils, these gummies’ cannabinoid profile is perfect for those who need help falling and staying asleep. 
  • Kiva Midnight Mint: who said a midnight snack couldn’t be therapeutic? With this chocolate edible, consumers receive 5mg THC and 2mg CBN per piece. Its rich dark chocolate flavor profile will help you drift off to sleep and allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and recharged. 

Your Experience at CannaCulture

Located near the heart of San Jose, CannaCulture Collective is proud to be the one-stop-shop for all things cannabis. If you are new to the area or want to see what CannaCulture is all about, please don’t hesitate to speak with one of our budtenders. Finding the right cannabis product can sometimes feel elusive. Our budtenders are trained to answer any questions you may have and guide you along the way to a product that is right for you. If you enjoyed reading this blog post, be sure to check out our other posts to stay up to speed on the latest developments  in the cannabis industry. To reach us directly, please call (408) 264-7877.


  1. Nazarenus, C. (2020). Medical cannabis handbook for healthcare professionals. Springer Publishing Company. https://connect.springerpub.com/content/book/978-0-8261-3573-5/chapter/ch03
  2. Mackie K. (2008). Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. Journal of neuroendocrinology, 20 Suppl 1, 10–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x
  3. Hillard, C. J., Beatka, M., & Sarvaideo, J. (2016). Endocannabinoid Signaling and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. Comprehensive Physiology, 7(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1002/cphy.c160005
  4. Dhopeshwarkar, A., & Mackie, K. (2014). CB2 Cannabinoid receptors as a therapeutic target-what does the future hold?. Molecular pharmacology, 86(4), 430–437. https://doi.org/10.1124/mol.114.094649
  5. Pertwee R. G. (2008). The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. British journal of pharmacology, 153(2), 199–215. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjp.0707442
  6. Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
  7. Pertwee R. G. (2006). Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. British journal of pharmacology, 147 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S163–S171. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406
  8. Tahir, M.N., Shahbazi, F., Rondeau-Gagné, S. et al. The biosynthesis of the cannabinoids. J Cannabis Res 3, 7 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00062-4
  9. Jennifer H Walsh, Kathleen J Maddison, Tim Rankin, Kevin Murray, Nigel McArdle, Melissa J Ree, David R Hillman, Peter R Eastwood, Treating insomnia symptoms with medicinal cannabis: a randomized, crossover trial of the efficacy of a cannabinoid medicine compared with placebo, Sleep, Volume 44, Issue 11, November 2021, zsab149, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab149
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