What is Cannabicyclol (CBL)?

by | Dec 31, 2019

Written by Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a cannabis writer and B2B content marketer living in British Columbia, Canada. Her focus on cannabis tech, scientific breakthroughs, and extraction has led to bylines with Cannabis & Tech Today, Terpenes and Testing, Analytical Cannabis, and Grow Mag among others. She is the owner and lead-writer of Sea to Sky Content, which provides content and strategy to the industry’s biggest brands.

A little-discussed cannabinoid, but one deserving of more scientific attention is cannabicyclol (CBL). This minor cannabinoid is a degradative compound, meaning it develops after another cannabinoid is exposed to irradiation. In this case, cannabichromene (CBD) degrades into CBL after exposure to oxygen and UV light. Therefore, CBL likely only occurs after harvesting, or only in trace amounts in live trichomes.

Molecularly speaking, CBL is fascinating because it does not contain any double-bonds within its basic structure. Double Bonds, which exists in both Δ9-THC and Δ8-THC, are responsible for the psychoactive and intoxicating nature of these molecules. Lacking a double bond, CBL is therefore assumed to be non-inebriating.

What We Know About CBL

Beyond an understanding of the molecular structure of CBL, researchers know very little about the compound. In nature, it exists in even lower quantities than other minor cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBC. Therefore, it remains only a footnote within cannabinoid research.

With the growing emphasis on minor cannabinoids in recent years and more advanced extraction techniques, extremely rare cannabinoids, like CBL, will become more manageable to study. As a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, CBL likely has therapeutic potential should it receive enough interest for preliminary investigation.

Despite the lack of any research into the pharmacological applications of CBL, it is structurally similar to other non-intoxicating cannabinoids. Therefore, it may operate in similar ways to other cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG, to influence the processes of the endocannabinoid system.

As a minor cannabinoid, CBL may also have potential in the context of the Entourage Effect. Made famous by Ethan B. Russo, this theory describes a synergistic benefit to the many compounds found in cannabis. According to this hypothesis, “botanical drugs were often more efficacious than their isolated components.” There is growing support for full-spectrum cannabis products based on evidence they are more efficient than cannabinoid isolates. The benefits of CBL may become more apparent through the study of the Entourage Effect.

Who is Producing It?

As one of the least understood cannabinoids, there is little demand for CBL in either medicinal or recreational markets. It is, therefore, only available as a research material through research chemical companies such as Cayman Chemical and Cerilliant. As a research chemical, it is neither fit for human consumption nor financially feasible for commercial applications.

With time, all cannabinoids, including even the most minor compounds like CBL, should become more available thanks to better extraction techniques, and more research into the medicinal applications. As a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, CBL will most likely find viability only as a therapeutic cannabinoid, with no recreational benefit.