Is CBN a Controlled Substance? Yes. No. Maybe?

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The large number of benefits that are derivable from cannabis is due to the class of plant molecules embedded in the plant matrix known as cannabinoids. Cannabis plays host to over 100 cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The synergy of the actions of these phytochemical molecules accounts for the numerous health benefits attributed to cannabis. The two prominent cannabinoids of cannabis that need no introduction in the cannabis world are THC and CBD but a good number of the other cannabinoids are also quite beneficial individually. One such cannabinoid is CBN.

What is CBN?

CBN or cannabinol is a cannabinoid that is derived by the oxidation and decomposition of THC. The interpretation of this is that CBN is gotten when THC is heated and exposed to carbon dioxide. The implication of this degradation is evident in the psychoactive nature of CBN as it is less psychoactive than THC but still more psychoactive than CBD. One major benefit of CBN that largely complements its reduced psychoactive nature is that it gives and calming and sedative effect in removing sleep disturbances and makes sleep easier. This effect follows suit alongside one of the prominent effects of CBD.

Is CBN a controlled substance?

Much like with THC and CBD, to understand the laws that are guiding CBN we must look at the stance of the FDA and how it classifies the substance. This is done bearing in mind that the FDA still sees cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic drug despite the fact that a good number of states have legalized the use of cannabis medically and recreationally. The FDA regulates cannabis and the products of its compounds under the 2018 Farm Bill and Section 351 of the Public Health Act. The Drug Exclusion rule also follows suit on that by making it illegal to add products such as CBD in dietary supplements. This is because the FDA has approved the use of CBD in Epidiolex for rare forms of seizures in children. This makes CBD a non-exempt drug that cannot be put in dietary supplements under this act.

When it comes to CBN however, the case is a bit different because CBN is yet to be approved as a drug and so it does not fall under the jurisdiction of this law yet. The rule exempts products that are already being marketed as food and dietary supplements which CBN is already been marketed as. This means that since CBN is already been marketed as dietary supplements prior to FDA clinical investigation of CBN as a drug, it won’t be covered under the non-exempt drug rule. This stands sure as long as manufacturers stay clear of unapproved health claims.

Before delving more into the peculiarities surrounding the legality of CBN in the United States and whether it is a controlled substance or not, we must first look into how it fairs on the international scene. CBN is not controlled by international treaties neither is it covered under the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. The implication of this is that CBN is legal under international laws and can be exported. With the increase in the talk of CBN experienced in the media in 2019, the stage looks set for many cannabis companies with fewer FDA entanglements when it comes to CBN. The only problem that might still linger is the problems with the technology needed for the conversion of CBN from THC.

The argument that surrounds whether CBN is a controlled substance is far from over as it becomes confusing when viewed from different ends. One of those ends is from the aspect of the Controlled Substances Act. This act defines marijuana as all parts of the cannabis plants and exempts the cannabis stalks and on-viable seeds. The cannabis stalks and non-viable stalks are removed due to the fact that they contain a limited number of cannabinoids. The 2018 Farm Bill, however, removes hemp from the CSA definition of marijuana. This seems to approve CBN derived from hemp because hemp is regarded as all parts of the cannabis plant that has cannabinoids and THC concentration that is less than0.3%.

One argument or theory that has always seem to place CBN into the category of controlled substances although not in plain terms is the Federal Analogue Act. The act states that any chemical intended for human consumption and is substantially similar to a controlled substance listed in Schedule I and II  of the Controlled Substance Act, the substance is treated as a Schedule I and II  substance. The exemption by the CSA of THC derived from hemp under 0.3% still affects this argument as to whether we  CBN a controlled substance or not irrespective of its source.

CBN as said earlier is quite different from THC and less potent. It is also gotten by mechanical conversion from THC. This makes the explanation of THC derived from hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill a bit confusing because it seems to follow the line that only CBN derived from THC in hemp is regarded as lawful. The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes the derivatives, extract, and cannabinoids of hemp. However during the course of processing hemp THC there’s an increase in concentration of THC above the 0.3% acceptable limit. This further confuses the stance as to whether CBN should be from processed hemp. Ultimately, the present state that we are in is that things aren’t exactly clear cut when it comes to CBN and its classification as a controlled substance or not.

Bottom line

While more work is still being done, prior to a clearer understanding of the stance of CBN as a controlled substance or not, cannabis companies will have to exercise care. Particularly in the aspect of producing CBN from THC extracted from hemp. Cannabinol still remains a possible gem for the cannabis industry and with the different sorts of changes that are expected in the cannabis world, we could see a time in the not too distant future where CBN is actively utilized.

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