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CBD vs. CBN: What’s The Actual Difference


CBD vs. CBN: What’s The Actual Difference


As experts in all things marijuana, we get asked a lot of cannabis questions. Those questions range from grow tips to strain suggestions to consumption options. Lately, we’ve been getting some questions about CBD vs. CBN.

People are pretty curious about these cannabis components. And for good reason: CBD and CBN are becoming essential medical treatments for a variety of disorders.

We’ll explore those disorders later. But first, we’ll answer a few important questions:

  • What are CBD and CBN?
  • How do they work?
  • How are CBD and CBN produced in the cannabis plant?
  • Will they get you high?

Along the way, we’ll also investigate the benefits and side effects of both CBD and CBN. Let’s start from the top.

What Are CBD & CBN?

CBD is the abbreviation for the word cannabidiol. CBN is the abbreviation for the word cannabinol. Both CBD and CBN are chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Scientists have isolated 113 different cannabinoids, including:

  • CBG
  • CBC
  • CBT
  • THCA
  • THCV
  • CBL
  • CBE

The most famous (infamous?) cannabinoid is THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) thanks to its powerful psychedelic effects. Even if you’ve never experienced a marijuana high first-hand, you’re probably at least familiar with the effects of THC thanks to marijuana’s long-standing presence in movies and TV.

CBD and CBN are different than THC for a number of different reasons, which we’ll discuss in a later section. First, though, it’s vital that you understand how CBD and CBN work in your body.

How Do CBD & CBN Work?

When you smoke, dab, eat, vape, or in any other way consume a cannabis product, you introduce cannabinoids like CBD and CBN into your bloodstream. Your blood circulates the cannabinoids throughout your body and into your brain.

Once there, the cannabinoids dock with (and activate) special neurons that then produce a wide range of effects—both elsewhere in your brain and throughout your body.

Think of CBD and CBN like keys that unlock and open certain doors. When those doors are open, messages can pass through to other parts of your brain and body.

So, for example, if you’re experiencing anxiety, CBD unlocks and opens the door that signals your body to release anti-anxiety hormones. The process is a bit more complicated than we’ve described here, but you get the idea.

Now, let’s turn our attention to how CBD and CBN are produced in the cannabis plant.

How Are CBD & CBN Produced In The Cannabis Plant?

Up-close of cannabis plant

Up to this point in the article, we’ve discussed two ways that CBD and CBN are similar (they’re both cannabinoids, and they both interact with neurons in your brain). In this section, we’ll delve into one way that CBD and CBN are different: how they’re produced in the cannabis plant.

It all starts when biosynthesis in the cannabis plant produces CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). CBGA combines with other chemical compounds to make THCA, CBDA, and CBCA. These four-letter abbreviations are the acid forms of THC, CBD, and CBC. You can think of these acid forms as the parents of the cannabinoids that you get when you smoke, drink, eat, or dab your weed.

All of this occurs in the live, growing cannabis plant. Eventually, that cannabis plant needs to be harvested. After harvesting, you could simply eat the plant material, but you wouldn’t feel any of the effects that marijuana is so famous for.

That’s because the acid cannabinoids (THCA, CBDA, CBCA, etc.) need to be broken down even further to be of any use. How do you break them down? Decarboxylation.

Decarboxylation is just a fancy word for heating up your marijuana. There are two ways to decarb your pot:

  1. Light it on fire.
  2. Put it in the oven.

Marijuana Decarboxilation into CBD or CBN

Lighting your ganja on fire is really only good if you plan on smoking it (‘cause it’s destroyed, yo!). If you’re trying to decarb your marijuana so you can bake it in a pie, you’re really only going to be successful if you use an oven.

(Check out this article on how to make cannabis-infused honey for a quick and easy way to decarb your Mary Jane.)

When you decarboxylate your cannabis plant material, the heat breaks down the bonds that hold the acid molecules together. When the acids fall away, you’re left with THC, CBD, and CBC. So, the only way to get ahold of CBD is through decarboxylation.

But what about CBN? Well, CBN is a little different. There are actually two ways to produce CBN in the cannabis plant: decarboxylation and aging.

During decarboxylation, some of the THC breaks down even further to produce CBN. Think of it like splitting an atom into smaller subatomic particles (e.g., quarks). The nice thing about decarboxylation is that it’s relatively quick. You don’t have to wait very long before you can use the marijuana.

The second way to produce CBN—aging—requires a bit more time. After you harvest the raw cannabis, the acids (THCA, CBDA, CBCA) begin to break down naturally. This is a slow process, which is why we use decarboxylation to hurry things along.

But if you had enough patience, you could let your cannabis sit on a shelf for a few days or weeks. During that time, the THCA would break down to CBNA and eventually to CBN. Aging doesn’t work to produce CBD, only CBN.

Will CBD & CBN Get You High?

Effects of CBD vs CBN

Ah, the question on everyone’s mind: will CBD and CBN get you high? The answer is no, and sort of but not really. Allow us to clarify.


CBD will not get you high. In fact, CBD works against THC when they’re taken together to keep you from getting too high. So if you’re considering trying a CBD product, you can rest assured that it will not get you high.

CBD products like dissolvable strips, creams, and oils are produced with cannabis strains that are grown specifically for their high percentage of CBD and their low percentage of THC.


CBN is mildly psychoactive. It’s so mild that for a long time it was considered non-psychotropic (won’t affect your mental state). Recent studies, though, have shown that CBN can be a powerful sedative.

So, CBN produces the back end of the normal high (couchlock) without your having to taste colors and smell movement (we’re not sure that’s necessarily a good thing). But unless you’re taking a specialized CBN product with a high percentage of the cannabinoid, you probably won’t feel anything from CBN.

That’s why we can say that CBN will sort of but not really get you high.

What Are The Benefits Of CBD & CBN?

In the last two sections, we showed you how CBD and CBN differ (how they’re produced and if they’ll get you high). Now, we’ll investigate another way they’re similar: their benefits.

Both CBD and CBN have similar beneficial effects. CBD has a longer list, but as scientists continue to explore CBN, we’re sure its list will grow. Here’s how CBD and CBN compare.

Benefits of CBD vs CBD

Both CBD and CBN can be used to treat seizures, inflammation, pain, and insomnia. CBD has been successfully used to treat anxiety, PTSD, OCD, nausea, osteoporosis, and many other disorders.

Do CBD & CBN Have Any Side Effects?


The nice thing about CBD and CBN is that they have very few, if any, negative side effects. CBD does cause dry mouth, but if you’re taking it to fight cancer, can you really consider that a side effect?

CBD products don’t cause hair loss or stomach problems or confusion. There’s no long list of possible consequences of taking CBD like there are with other pharmaceuticals. We’ve all heard those commercials where the side effects sound worse than the problem for which you would take the drug. Not with CBD.

The only other “side effect” of note is that CBD will interfere with your liver’s ability to process other medications. So, if you’re taking blood pressure medicine, adding CBD to the mix could render that medicine ineffective.

CBN is similar to CBD in that it doesn’t have any significant side effects. It does act as a sedative (as mentioned in the section Will CBD & CBN Get You High?), so that could be considered a side effect of sorts. Other than that, though, no side effects here.

CBD vs. CBN: What’s The Actual Difference?

When you ask about the actual difference between CBD vs. CBN, it’s kind of like asking about the difference between Fuji apples and Honey Crisp apples. They’re pretty much the same thing with only slight differences. To summarize, CBD is similar to CBN in these ways:

  • They’re both cannabinoids.
  • They both interact with receptors in your brain.
  • They won’t get you high in the traditional sense of the word (like THC).
  • They have a lot of the same benefits and can be used to treat similar medical disorders.

CBD is different than CBN in these ways:

  • The two are produced within the cannabis plant in different ways.
  • CBD has more beneficial effects.
  • CBD can be used to treat more medical disorders.
  • CBD and CBN have very few side effects (some might say no side effects).

If you’re considering using a CBD or CBN product, we recommend trying the CBD product first. CBD has been studied more, it’s more readily available, it’s most likely cheaper, and it treats a longer list of problems. You can always stop using CBD and try CBN instead if you don’t experience the results you’re after.

For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100-percent all-natural marijuana products, visit today.

The post CBD vs. CBN: What’s The Actual Difference appeared first on Honest Marijuana.

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