As a certified sleep-deprived zombie, I get excited whenever something new—a product! A gadget! A witch’s spell where I have to sell my eternal soul!—comes out that promises to help me get some zzz’s. So when cannabis products created with a “new” cannabinoid called CBN (not to be confused with CBD) started hitting shelves, I was pumped. I’d been hearing reports from the U.S that it was helping the sleep-challenged for years, and finally it was within reach of my grubby little Canadian paws.
When CBN (or cannabinol) products started appearing in Canada last year, they were mostly in the forms of intimidating oils and tiny drinks (a.k.a. one-off shots). But now it seems like every time I walk into my local weed boutique there’s a new CBN edible or vape that I have to arm wrestle other tired moms for.
CBN is an “oxidization product” of THC—when THC is degraded by exposure to light, heat or oxygen, it turns into the non-intoxicating CBN. But does it actually work?
Cannabis research is still relatively new, and CBN is one of the lesser-known cannabinoids to boot, so scientific proof about its efficacy for sleep doesn’t really exist yet. In 2021 a small, survey-based study in the International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine found participants reported a decrease in sleep problems after taking CBN for a week, but a 2021 review of the available medical literature said evidence was inconclusive. Anecdotal reports continue to build though, and as someone who has personally struggled with sleep issues for approximately 5,000 years I can report it’s the only thing—other than pharmaceuticals—that I notice makes a real difference for me.
CBN on its own isn’t psychoactive (i.e., it won’t get you high) but it’s often mixed with a little THC (which does get you high), so if you’re trying to avoid THC entirely be sure to read the labels carefully! (And, of course, always keep cannabis products stored where kids and/or pets can’t access them and no driving when using cannabis products.)
Dosing, however, is confusing. One of the weird things about cannabis legislation in Canada is that producers aren’t allowed to tell you how much to take. It’s kind of like when you buy a bottle of wine—there’s no label on it that says: “Cap this at two glasses and order some frites with your pinot this time, OK?!” They just leave it up to the consumer to know their own limits. The only official advice producers are allowed to give is “start low and go slow,” an adage that’s especially true with edibles, where it sometimes takes hours to feel their full effects. However most of these picks have quite low amounts of THC. If I’m in for the evening I’ll usually use a CBN product with 1-2 mg THC starting around 7 p.m. so I’m nice and relaxed by the time my bubbi bedtime of 10:30 rolls around. It will probably take some experimentation to see what works for you.
Below you’ll find my suggestions for some CBN-based products you can try. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve linked to the Ontario Cannabis Store for all products, but you can get these at your local weed shops, too.
Sunshower Blueberry Moon 2:1 Soft Chews
These have become my nighttime go-to because they’re the perfect combo of a micro dose of 1 mg THC and 2mg CBN in each tasty blueberry chew. Ontario Cannabis Store
Olli Sugar-Free Blackcurrant Vanilla Goodnight Gems
I’m loving that there are two sugar-free CBN options from what’s probably my favourite edibles brand (it’s woman-owned and Canadian, too!) Hard candies aren’t as split-able as gummies if you want to go halfsies to start, but the low dose— 2 mg THC and 1 mg CBN in the Goodnight Gems and 1 mg THC with 1 mg CBN in the Sugar-Free Twilight Melon Gems—mean that you probably won’t need to cut them up anyways. Ontario Cannabis Store
DynaDream CBN Lemon Ginger 20:1 Soft Chew
These are a great option for people who don’t want any THC with their CBN fix but do want CBD, the other non-psychoactive cannabinoid that some say can help with relaxation. These come with a healthy 20-mg dose of CBD along with 2 mg of CBN in each gummy. Ontario Cannabis Store
NightNight Full Spectrum CBN+CBD Oil
Oils aren’t my favourite because they’re just not fun and they are also quite pricey, but some people swear by them because they allow for very precise dosing. This formula contains CBN and CBD and no THC. Ontario Cannabis Store
Wana Quick Midnight Berry Indica Soft Chews
One of the main annoyances with edibles is that it can take too long to feel their effects. Enter the Wana Quick collection, made with a special formula that hits faster (usually within 30 minutes). These soft chews have a sweet mixed-berry flavour and have 10 mg CBD, 2 mg of THC and 5 mg CBN in each piece. Ontario Cannabis Store
Field Trip GO: Slumber 5:1 CBN Shot
This flowery tasting shot infused with chamomile, lavender and honey is pleasant and works, but at $6.20 a pop becomes an expensive habit if you plan to take it every night. Contains 5 mg CBN and 1 mg THC. Ontario Cannabis Store
Ace Valley CBN Blackberry Lemon Dream Soft Chews
At 5 mg of THC each, these gummies are stronger than the other edibles on this list, but I find that taking half is plenty so this yummy pack lasts me four nights. Ontario Cannabis Store
Northbound Cannabis CBN Dosidos x Purple Punch 510 Thread Cartridge
At first I found this formula tasted really bitter—there’s also THC and a touch of CBD in the mix. But that calmed down as the oil got lower, and the effects are definitely strong. Ontario Cannabis Store
Vapes—which are filled with concentrated cannabis oils—are a good way to top yourself up puff by puff and they seem to last for-e-ver. You can buy disposable cannabis vape pens (try this beauty from woman-owned Canadian brand Madge and Mercer), but it’s worth it to invest in your own vape battery if you decide you like this method because most batteries can be used with most cartridges. (Think of the cartridge as your Smiths cassette tape and the vape battery like your portable stereo. Yeah, I know how old you are, sis—you’re not fooling me!)