If you consumed marijuana that was sitting around for longer than usual, or was exposed to open air or sunlight for an extended period of time, you may have felt a little sleepier afterwards. Don’t worry, you didn’t imagine it. There’s actually a scientific reason why old cannabis has increased sedative effects. It happens when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is left out in the open and changes into a lesser-known compound called cannabinol (CBN).
According to Steep Hill Labs, one of the leading cannabis testing labs in the country, [CBN is a very useful and unique cannabinoid](http://steephill.com/blogs/34/Cannabinol-(CBD) that can help people who suffer from sleep disorders, need a sedative to control conditions like muscle spasms or anxiety, or have vision issues like glaucoma—without psychoactive effects.
Exposure to certain elements can alter a cannabinoid’s chemical makeup, pushing it into a new stage of life as a different compound altogether. According to Steep Hill Labs, almost all identified cannabinoids have something in common: They’re stored in the cannabis plant in their acid form until heat is applied, in a process called decarboxylation. The heat forces cannabinoids to take on a new chemical make-up that sometimes results in different side effects.
For example, THC, the cannabinoid that makes us feel high, is stored in the cannabis plant as an acid called THCA, which has no psychoactive effects. But once heat’s applied, THCA’s chemical makeup is altered, and it turns into THC.
Unlike most cannabinoids, CBN doesn’t appear as a result of decarboxylation, but instead arises simply from contact with air and UV rays that deteriorate cannabis over time. Steep Hill Labs notes that “most of the CBN found in cannabis is due to the degradation of THC, where THC has oxidized to CBN.”
So cannabis that has been sitting around for many weeks, exposed to open air or UV rays, will result in more THC turning into CBN.
Similar to CBD, CBN has very little to no “high” side effects. But what CBN lacks in psychoactive properties, it makes up for in sedative potential. Some medical cannabis patients may enjoy oxidized cannabis for its ability to help treat sleep disorders, an issue that affects 60 million Americans each year.
Steep Hill Labs says consuming 2.5 to 5 mg of CBN will have a level of sedative effects equal to a mild pharmaceutical sedative like Diazepam. They say that the right dose of CBN can be a natural treatment option and effective aid for sleeping five to six hours.
If you prefer cannabis without increased sedative effects, you can easily follow proper storing techniques that can help keep your cannabis fresh for longer.
CBN has the potential to help treat certain conditions such as glaucoma. CBN is shown to be effective in reducing intraocular eye pressure in cats when applied topically. Intraocular eye pressure is one of the most troubling symptoms of the eye disorder that affects 2.7 million Americans.
Steep Hill Labs also concluded that CBN can be a “beneficial alternative to THC for treatment.”
This is a big revelation especially considering that many medical cannabis patients want treatment options with little to no psychoactive results, specifically children or elderly patients uncomfortable with being high. As a result, these patients, or their caregivers, often choose CBD-only options, attracted to their lack of psychoactive side effects.
But some physicians believe CBD-only treatments are less effective than treatments that incorporate THC with CBD. If CBN can be an effective treatment alternative to THC, patients may be able to get the same medical benefits without getting high.
As with all things cannabis, more research must be done to fully understand all of the treatment applications for CBN and whether the cannabinoid is truly an effective alternative to THC. But if you live in a marijuana-friendly state and suffer from sleep disorders or glaucoma, talk with your doctor about CBN as a potential natural treatment option.
Photo Credit: Kinga Cichewicz