If you’ve ever smoked a long-forgotten joint and fallen into a sleepy couch-coma, you’ve already tried CBN, a cannabinoid that is quickly becoming 2020’s best alternative to sleeping pills. “CBN really makes your body want to sleep,” says Kat Merryfield, a holistic-medicine expert who is working with a team to develop a CBN product for her Tennessee-based company, Kat’s Naturals. Unlike CBD, which only attaches to cannabinoid receptors in places like your blood and bones, CBN attaches to those in your brain, giving you a slight meditative effect, Merryfield says, though “it’s not as psychoactive as THC.”

There’s a reason for this mild psychoactivity: CBN is actually just old THC, which has chemically decomposed over time. That’s why, until recently, CBN has been available only in medically or recreationally legal states — there was no way to fully separate the two, and in many states, any trace of THC makes the product illegal. But thanks to years of research from folks like Ryan Lewis, founder of wholesale supplier Global Cannabinoids, CBN has been isolated, and is now being sold nationwide in tinctures, edibles, and even vapes. While California-based companies like Kiva Confections are offering THC-rich gummies with CBN, others, like Bloom Farms, are adding CBN to their nationally available slate. “I’m giving people CBN to try,” says Lewis. “The feedback is dramatic. People are saying, ‘It’s the best night of sleep I’ve ever had.’”


A version of this story ran in Rolling Stone’s annual Hot Issue, out now