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Step-by-step Process of How CBN is Made

Cannabinol, also known as CBN (not to be confused with cannabidiol), is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in industrial hemp and cannabis. It has been suggested that it might have potential medical use, but more research is needed for this to happen. If you would like to know the step-by-step process of how the CBN products are made, continue further below.

How is CBN made?

CBN is derived from cannabigerol acid (CBGa). It is the acidic form of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. THC contains a phenyl group, which readily oxidizes to give CBN. If oxidized in humidity or air, CBNa converts into cannabinolic acid  (CBNa), which is then slowly converted into CBN by further oxidation.

The conversion from CBGa to CBN begins when a carboxyl group reacts with a neighboring cannabinoid molecule, creating a monoterpene group and releasing water. This monoterpene group is unstable, so it readily breaks apart and becomes a free radical. The free radical then reacts with oxygen to create the final CBN product.

Naturally, CBN is usually formed by the heat or light-induced rearrangement of cannabinol (CBN) to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC). Experimental evidence has shown that heating cannabis does not convert all of the THC into CBN. When pure THC is heated in a vacuum, no CBN is formed. However, oxygenated derivatives (such as cannabinol) are readily converted into CBN when exposed to a temperature of below 20 degrees Celsius. The process of CBN’s formation is similar to how aspirin forms salicylic acid from salicin by losing carbon dioxide – Aspirin loses its CO as salicylic acid, and cannabinolic acid similarly loses CO as CBN.

In summation, CBD is made through decarboxylation, which turns THCA into THC and then eventually into the psychoactive CBN after more chemical reactions. It is also made using slow degradation, which occurs when cannabis flower or hash are exposed to ultra-low temperatures for a few days. That also creates CBN while also producing small amounts of THC from the degradation of THCVA.