Shopping For Legal Cannabis

Ask a Bud: Minor Cannabinoids

THC and CBD might get all the attention, but there are a host of other cannabinoids that deserve to share the spotlight. Krystal Elento, budtender at Purple Tree Cannabis in Toronto, explains what minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBN and delta-8 THC can contribute to your favourite products.

Photo of Krystal Elento, a budtender at Purple Tree Cannabis in Toronto

As we learn about how our endocannabinoid system interacts with cannabis, we’re discovering more about the over 100 cannabinoids in the plant, beyond just THC and CBD. You may have noticed more Licensed Producers featuring minor cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, delta-8 and delta-9 THC in their products — and curious consumers are exploring how the balance of cannabinoids can impact their experience.

“Cannabinol (CBN), for instance, is a very mild intoxicating chemical found in cannabis plants. When we brought in products that contained CBN, our consumers were very excited to give them a try,” explains Krystal Elento, budtender at Purple Tree Cannabis in Toronto. “Ever since minor cannabinoids were introduced into the market, they have become more and more popular amongst Purple Tree’s consumers, and there has been a noticeable growth in sales regarding CBG and CBN products.”

Here’s how Krystal approaches some of the most frequently asked customer questions about minor cannabinoids.

What exactly are minor cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis. When consumed, some may contribute to effects, including, but not limited to, euphoria, pain relief, appetite stimulation and anxiety reduction. “Minor cannabinoids are found in much smaller quantities in cannabis compared to THC and CBD. There are over 100 different cannabinoids that can be isolated from a cannabis plant.”

If they are such a small part of the plant,
why are they important?

We’re still learning, but we know that the way various cannabinoids interact may affect our experience. “For example, CBD doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects on its own, but it can influence the way THC interacts with the CB1 receptors in your endocannabinoid system. Because of this, using CBD in addition to THC may influence your overall cannabis experience.” These interactions are very complex, but researchers are exploring the balance.

What are CBN and CBG, and what’s the difference?

“Cannabigerol, also known as CBG, is a cannabinoid obtained from cannabis strains, usually with low THC and high CBD. It is often referred to as the ‘mother of all cannabinoids’ since every cannabinoid actually starts off as CBG before most convert into other cannabinoids like THC or CBD. For this reason, younger cannabis plants contain higher amounts of CBG.” Researchers are exploring how CBG contributes to the effects of cannabis (for instance, if it may help regulate appetite).

CBG and Cannabidiol (CBN) are both non-psychoactive cannabinoids, like CBD, but they interact with the body’s receptors uniquely and so may produce different effects. CBN develops as the plant matures, so there are often higher concentrations of CBN found as a plant ages. Researchers are looking into potential CBN benefits: it may be of use to help regulate relaxation and sleep.

What are delta-8 and delta-9,
and what’s the difference?

“Delta-8 THC, also known as delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, is mainly hemp-derived and occurs naturally in trace amounts. It can also be made from extracted CBD that’s chemically altered, through human intervention, to become psychoactive.” Delta-9 THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the more well-known and potent psychoactive — and technically not a minor one — it’s the THC found in abundance within cannabis plants and the main active ingredient in many strains and products.

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC both may produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation and potential pain relief, but there is still more research needed to determine the differences between how our body interacts with delta-9 and delta-8 THC.

“When discussing minor cannabinoids, I try to stick to their potential benefits as opposed to guaranteeing any effects. Since there is still a lot of ongoing research on minor cannabinoids, it’s difficult to speak on accurate benefits and side effects. As budtenders, we do our best to keep things simple and typically let studies and first-hand experience lead our answers, while making no guarantees.”

This content has been assessed for accuracy by an unpaid scientific reviewer.
Learn more about our reviewers and resources.

The Pharmacological Case for Cannabigerol
The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Review of delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC): Comparative pharmacology with Δ9-THC
British Journal of Pharmacology
Cannabinoids, Insomnia, and Other Sleep Disorders
American College of Chest Physicians: CHEST Journal
Information for Health Care Professionals
Government of Canada
Individual and combined effects of acute delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on psychotomimetic symptoms and memory function
Translational Psychiatry
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