In 2015, Leandro Pasztor found a pound of misplaced marijuana. He’d set it aside two years prior, and one day it appeared like an unpaid parking ticket, demanding attention.
As a marijuana grower, Pasztor wasn’t in the habit of losing product. And at the time of his discovery, he was planning to launch a line of medicinal oils extracted from cannabis plants. Out of curiosity, he threw the old weed in with a batch of plants he’d prepared for a local testing lab in Irvine, California, and a month later, his phone rang.
“Do you know what you have here?” the technician asked. Pasztor was stumped. “THC oil?” he guessed. In fact, the full answer was more interesting.
The technician wasn’t talking about THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the marijuana compound that gets you stoned. Nor was he talking about CBD, the other cannabinoid that spawned a booming market of capsules, lozenges, skincare products, and pet treats. What the lab discovered in Pasztor’s weed was a third cannabinoid called cannabinol, or CBN, which usually occurs as a fraction of a percentage in fresh marijuana. But Pasztor’s two-year-old plants, shockingly, contained nearly 15 percent CBN.