What is CBL (Cannabicyclol)? Uses & Benefits

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December 28, 2021 | Blog

Cannabicyclol (CBL) is a relatively unknown cannabinoid that appears in tiny concentrations in marijuana and hemp plants.

It’s non-psychoactive, so it won’t produce any euphoria or a high, but many experts believe it may have some health benefits.

Below you’ll find a brief introduction into what little is known about CBL, including its chemical structure, production, and commonly reported effects on humans.

What Is CBL?

Chemical Structure of CBL

CBL is a minor phytocannabinoid, which means cannabis plants only produce it in small quantities.

It was first isolated in the 1960s by Korte and Sieper. It wasn’t for a few more years before its chemical structure was mapped by Gaoni, Mechoulam, and Claussen.

Unlike delta 8 THC or delta 9 THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBL is a degradative cannabinoid. This means CBL isn’t produced directly by the cannabis plant and is instead formed when another cannabinoid — cannabichromene (CBC) — breaks down. This degradation happens slowly and produces exceedingly small amounts of CBL, making it difficult to isolate and study.

CBL has a similar chemical structure to cannabinol, also called CBN, but lacks the double-bond structure that gives CBN mild psychoactive qualities. The effects of CBL are likely to be most similar to those of cannabidiol (CBD), which is to say that CBL is not psychoactive. Instead, CBL is believed to have other effects on the endocannabinoid system and will not produce intoxication.

Is CBL Natural or Synthetic?

CBL is a phytocannabinoid, which means it occurs naturally in cannabis. Marijuana and hemp plants naturally have trace amounts of CBL that form when the plant is exposed to UV light.

Cannabis plants don’t create CBL directly as part of their life cycle, but that doesn’t make it any less natural. In fact, THC and CBD, the primary cannabinoids in cannabis plants, are really derivatives of another cannabinoid — cannabigerol (CBG). All of these cannabinoids are naturally occurring.

How Is CBL Made?

Unlike mainstream cannabinoids like THC and CBD, CBL isn’t manufactured and processed into consumable products yet. Virtually all CBL that gets synthesized is used for research purposes.

In nature, CBL is formed when cannabichromene or CBC is broken down by ultraviolet light or heat. This formation mechanism means that older cannabis plants generally have higher concentrations of CBL than young plants, but overall the amount is still minuscule.

Since there is so little CBL present in cannabis plant matter, researchers use artificial synthesis methods to create CBL in the lab. Given the general lack of interest in CBL commercially, there is no means of mass-producing it yet.

Is CBL Legal?

Yes, CBL is legal, as long as it’s derived from hemp.

In the United States, the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized CBL and other cannabinoids made from hemp products at the federal level. Individual states may restrict CBL sale and use as they see fit, although none have done so to date.

Internationally, CBL is not a controlled substance under the United Nations’ 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. As such, individual countries control its legal status in their jurisdiction.

CBL vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between CBL and CBD is that CBD’s effects are well-known, and its potential health benefits are more understood. We know almost nothing about CBL’s pharmacological activity compared to CBD’s.

While the effects of CBD have been studied extensively in clinical research, basically no research has been done on CBL. Some researchers postulate that CBL’s effects may be similar to CBD’s effects, but it’s little more than speculation at this point.

What Are the Effects of CBL?

Scientist Gathering Hemp Leaves to Beaker

Little is known about the effects of CBL since it is practically unstudied. Many scientists and experts think it might have similar effects to CBD, although their arguments are based on indirect evidence.

Human studies of CBL’s effects have not been conducted, so any information about CBL’s effects comes purely from conjecture.

Are There Any Side Effects to Taking CBL?

There are currently no known side effects of taking CBL, although that results from how little science knows about CBL rather than experience.

More research is needed before a reliable statement about CBL’s side effects can be made.

How Does CBL Work?

All cannabinoids interact with the human body primarily through the endocannabinoid system. The key components of the endocannabinoid system are two receptors: cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2).

CB1 receptors are in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Activity at CB1 receptors is what gives cannabinoids like delta 8 and delta 9 THC their psychoactivity. Cannabinoids that don’t interact strongly with CB1 receptors typically don’t induce a high.

CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system and play no role in determining the psychoactivity of a cannabinoid.

CBL research is in its infancy, but it seems like it has no affinity for CB1 or CB2 receptors, much like CBD. If this result holds up to further scrutiny, it is reasonable to expect that CBL’s effects will be similar to CBD’s.

Interestingly, since CBL is not manufactured for mainstream use, there is no anecdotal evidence to fall back on in the absence of formal studies.

Will CBL Get You High?

Research on CBL’s effects is virtually nonexistent. However, from preliminary research, it’s clear CBL is non-psychoactive — or at the very least, has very low psychoactivity.

Most experts hypothesize that CBL’s effects are similar to CBD’s based on preliminary studies of its interactions with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Alternatives to CBL

It’s hard to say for sure, but the following cannabinoids could be a good alternative to CBL.

1. CBD (Cannabidiol)

If you’re looking for a cannabinoid that doesn’t produce a high and may come with health benefits, CBD (also known as Cannabidiol) is probably a good choice. It can help manage stress, ease mild pain, and improve sleep.

2. CBC (Cannabichromene)

CBL itself is derived from CBC. This parent compound could be the closest alternative to CBL we have available.

CBC or Cannabichromene is much more common in commercial products these days. You’ll most often find it in the form of vape carts, tinctures, and gummies alongside other cannabinoids. It’s rare to find CBC by itself.

3. Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 THC is another viable alternative, although it is psychoactive. Compared to delta 9 THC, the highs produced by delta 8 THC are significantly less intense, based on user reports.

If you don’t mind light intoxication and don’t want the full delta 9 experience, delta 8 THC is an option to consider. Like CBD, delta 8 THC is federally legal in the United States and accessible to most people.

Key Takeaways: What is CBL?

More research on CBL is needed if it’s going to find a home in the mainstream cannabinoid market. We know little about CBL compared to CBD and THC, making it an untapped market with unknown potential.

Many experts expect CBL to have similar effects to CBD based on its chemical structure and how it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. If that’s true, CBL would be non-intoxicating and have a calming effect on its users.

CBD might be a good option if you’re looking for a cannabinoid that doesn’t produce a high. Many people take CBD to manage their anxiety and improve their sleep quality. Delta 8 THC is another option for people that don’t mind a little psychoactivity but want to avoid the potent mind-altering effects of delta 9 THC.

References Used

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  2. Dach, J., Moore, E. A., & Kander, J. (2015). Cannabis Extracts in Medicine: The Promise of Benefits in Seizure Disorders, Cancer and Other Conditions. McFarland. [2]
  3. Morales, P., Hurst, D. P., & Reggio, P. H. (2017). Molecular targets of the phytocannabinoids: a complex picture. Phytocannabinoids, 103-131. [3]
  4. Moltke, J., & Hindocha, C. (2021). Reasons for cannabidiol use: a cross-sectional study of CBD users, focusing on self-perceived stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Journal of cannabis research, 3(1), 1-12. [4] [5]