What is CBC?

Written by

Ali Mans Cornwell

My educational background is a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English & Creative Writing. I have been writing about CBD and cannabis since 2018. Aside from my work at...

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CBC Cannabichromene cannabis cannabinoid
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Cannabichromene, or CBC, is one of approximately 140 cannabinoids present in cannabis and the third-most prevalent behind CBD and THC. It’s non-intoxicating and doesn’t induce a euphoric, mind-altering high, but does have fantastic effects and benefits, including pain relief, anti-acne, anti-depression, and anti-tumor.  

Hemp-derived CBC products are federally legal across all 50 US states. CBC products derived from high-THC marijuana are not federally legal but permitted in 36 US states with legalized recreational and medical cannabis.

What is CBC (Cannabichromene)?

CBC cannabichromene cannabis cannabinoid molecular structure

Definition. CBC is short for cannabichromene or less commonly pentylcannabichromene. It’s one of roughly 140 similar chemical compounds present in varieties of cannabis, which include hemp and marijuana. CBC is the third-most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, behind CBD and THC. 

Big Six. CBC is considered one of the “big six”, alongside CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, and THCV, meaning it’s one of the most scientifically and medically researched cannabinoids. 

Conversion. CBC originates from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), considered “The Mother of All Cannabinoids”. CBGA converts into cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) through an enzymatic synthesis, which then decarboxylates into CBC.

Discovery. CBC was discovered and isolated in 1966, two years after CBD and THC. Since then, CBD, THC, CBG, and delta-8 have taken most of the spotlight away from CBC, but times are changing, and interest in CBC’s effects, benefits, and safety is increasing. 

What is CBC good for?

As one of the “big six” most researched cannabinoids, CBC’s benefits are well-documented. CBC is good for pain, inflammation, acne, depression, and brain cell development, making it a promising cannabinoid for mental and physical ailments. 

As a general rule, CBC is best in combination with other cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBG, and other valuable plant compounds. While still a theory, plant compounds working together in synergy contribute to the entourage effect, a phenomenon where each compound’s effects and benefits are heightened in your body.

1. CBC to reduce pain and regulate pain perception

CBC’s activity at vanilloid receptor type 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) reduces pain and regulates pain perception, specifically in patients with cancer, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers believe CBC’s pain-relieving qualities are on par or even superior to those of CBD. 

2. CBC to potentially combat signs of acne

CBC could potentially fight signs of acne and skin inflammation on its own or paired with other cannabinoids. 

Researchers studied the anti-acne activity of CBC, CBG, CBDV, CBGV, and THCV. They discovered a combination of CBG and CBGV helped combat dry skin syndrome, a chronic skin condition that can lead to atopic dermatitis (eczema). They also found CBC, CBDV, and THCV showed significant anti-inflammatory effects and could become highly potent anti-acne agents. 

3. CBC to alleviate depression 

CBC is a proven antidepressant in animal test subjects. In one study, researchers analyzed antidepressant qualities of five primary cannabinoids: CBD, CBG, CBN, THC, and, of course, CBC. They discovered CBC has the most potent and effective antidepressant effects, much more than CBD and THC, and on par with pharma-based antidepressant drugs. 

4. CBC as a viable anti-proliferative 

Up until very recently, CBC’s anti-tumor capabilities have been relatively unknown. However, Israeli researchers utilized High-throughput screening (HTS) to analyze the necrotic effects of various cannabinoids on human gastrointestinal cancer cells. They discovered CBC and CBG were the most effective at penetrating cancer cell membranes, while their CBCA and CBGA precursor acids were the least effective. 

What are the effects of CBC?

CBC effects are relaxing and mood-lifting with the ability to reduce pain and regulate pain perception. CBC’s effects are complemented by the soothing anti-anxiety qualities of CBD, CBG, and THC. 

If you want to experience full CBC effects, we recommend a full-spectrum CBD oil or capsule product with CBD, CBG, and THC (<0.3%), alongside beneficial terpenes and flavonoids. 

Can CBC make you high?

No. Like CBD and CBG, CBC is non-intoxicating. It does not cause a euphoric high, nor does it impair your thinking, judgment, or memory. 

However, when purchasing a CBC product, it’s best to check the company hasn’t added delta-8 into the formula. Delta-8 THC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid similar to THC. Consumption of delta-8 causes a moderate euphoric high in mild doses. 

CBC vs CBD: What’s the difference?

CBD and CBC are two different cannabinoids with a surprising number of similarities. 

Both are non-intoxicating, won’t induce a euphoric high, and interact with similar receptor types. However, CBD has more affinity with serotonin receptors, producing anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects. 

CBD and CBC are also decent anti-inflammatories when applied to the skin, making them a good choice for skin complaints such as eczema and acne. However, research shows CBC’s anti-acne effects are potentially stronger, keeping imperfections and blemishes at bay for a longer period. 

Are there high CBC cannabis strains?

Yes, there are high CBC cannabis strains, but they’re not common in the US, nor are they intentionally bred to carry high percentages of CBC. Only a select handful of cannabis strains naturally contain higher percentages of CBC. These strains typically hold more than 0.3% THC but no more than 1% CBC. 

Speaking with Kay Watt, Ph.D., a botanical geneticist at Dark Heart Nursery, the strains highest in CBC are Mint Cut of GSC and Elevate’s Dosado Sherbert, both of which are marijuana strains carrying more than the legal 0.3% THC limit. 

At this moment there are not any strains available that are intentionally bred to be high in CBC. Because it is considered a minor cannabinoid, even the strains that contain relatively high amounts still have less than 1% CBC. The highest CBC I’ve seen is 0.8%

Kay Watt, Ph.D., Dark Heart Nursery

Asked why there’s a lack of high CBC cannabis strains, Watt believes it’s to do with an equal lack of interest in minor cannabinoids in favor of other major cannabinoids:

“Most of the commercially produced and bred cannabis in North America is produced exclusively for cannabinoids (THC and CBD), seeds, or fiber. It may be possible that there are strains that are higher in CBC, but it has not been a point of interest within cannabis until relatively recently.”

Is CBC legal to buy?

Yes, under the Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), CBC is federally legal to purchase, provided it’s from hemp plants carrying no more than 0.3% THC. 

CBC sourced from high-THC marijuana is not legal to buy on the federal level. Marijuana-derived CBC is only permitted in US states with legalized medical or recreational cannabis laws, including Alaska, California, Colorado, and Oregon. 

CBC is also not scheduled under the US Controlled Substances Act (CSA), nor is it listed under the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. 

CBC product recommendations

As CBC becomes more popular, more CBC products enter the market. Which ones are safe, effective, and of the highest quality?

CBC isolate oil product
A few companies are currently selling CBC isolate extracts in tinctures, capsules and vapes. Photo: NuLeaf Naturals

The CBC product recommendations below are isolated extracts with high concentrations of hemp-derived CBC, available for purchase online. You can also find cannabis-derived CBC products at your local dispensary.

  1. NuLeaf Naturals: CBC oil and capsules
  2. Extract Labs: CBC distillate, extract sauce, tincture, softgels, chocolate bar
  3. Industrial Hemp Farms: CBC distillate (bulk options available)
  4. 3Chi: CBC isolate, tincture, vape cartridge (bulk options available)

CBC is a promising cannabinoid with lots to give

CBC is a lesser-known but no less fantastic cannabinoid to add to your arsenal of hemp-derived products. Its non-intoxicating effects and benefits are best used with other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, and THC, which is why we believe a full-spectrum CBC product should be your go-to. However, you can use it on its own as a standalone cannabinoid. Make sure you check out CBC distillate products carrying up to 95-97% CBC.

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