Everything You Need to Know About HHC

07 October, 2022
Everything You Need to Know About HHC

Throughout our cannabis exploration, we've encountered many different chemicals that make up this wondrous plant. We've talked about terpenes like myrcene and limonene, and we've also examined cannabinoids like THC and CBD. And let's not forget the many other lesser-known cannabinoids like CBG and CBN.

Perhaps you've heard HHC pop up lately and assumed it too was a type of cannabinoid. Well, we're always happy to explore new terms and concepts with our readers, which is why we're now going to discuss HHC and what it has to offer.

What is HHC

If you're wondering why you're only now hearing about HHC, it's because the cannabinoid's availability is a somewhat recent development. It's not abundantly available, and when it is, it's usually sold as a vape cartridge.

Believe it or not, knowledge of this compound dates all the way to back 1944 when it was discovered by a chemist named Roger Adams. By introducing hydrogen molecules to delta-9 THC, he was able to create the cannabinoid ​​hexahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as HHC.

Today, it's typically generated from CBD that's pulled from a hemp plant. After the CBD has been extracted, distilled, and converted to a powder, the contents are placed in a chemical reactor, which produces HHC.

From this information, you're probably assuming it’s a synthetic cannabinoid, but that's not quite true. While it is necessary to generate HHC in a lab to produce an adequate amount for products, that doesn't mean the chemical won't occur naturally. When the THC in an aged plant converts to CBN, trace amounts of HHC emerge. This quantity is so limited, however, that it becomes necessary to synthesize the cannabinoid in order to yield enough for production.

When HHC is made, it has active and inactive molecules. Those that are active (9R HHC) are compatible with the endocannabinoid system and those that are inactive (9S HHC) aren't as much. The balance between 9R HHC and 9S HHC will be different every time the cannabinoid is produced, but if a yield is over 50% inactive, it will fail to meet product standards.


Consuming HHC

Based on some anecdotal evidence, products containing HHC are thought to offer consumers pain relief, as well as an uplifting, energizing head buzz. In fact, some people who have tried it have reported superior results over traditional THC, including fewer instances of those negative side effects that occasionally happen from overconsumption. In theory, its similarity to THC would suggest that HHC could also help with issues such as anxiety, depression, inflammation, loss of appetite, and more. Unfortunately, there's almost no information at this time that would link any of these benefits to HHC. 

You can still experience hallucinations and brain fog when consuming HHC. Large doses could potentially bring about other negative effects associated with excessive THC, so you should definitely use discretion if you are planning to try this cannabinoid.

In terms of potency, there is some conflicting information out there. HHC is generally viewed to be on par with delta-9 and stronger than delta-8. However, some claim that while it can offer the energizing effects associated with THC, you'd have to consume a higher dose to have a similar experience. Since products are just now making it to market, it may be some time before there's a consensus, though it could simply vary by brand.

Like delta-8 THC, HHC is a hemp-based cannabinoid that is popping up as a legally dubious alternative to traditional THC. And because delta-8 is gradually being outlawed, consumers may see more HHC products pop up in the future. But will their fate be any different? And would these products be wise to consume?

At present, we don't know if this cannabinoid is safe largely because it's still very new to the market. One thing to keep in mind is that because it's created in a lab, chemicals are involved, which could definitely pose a health risk if they were to remain in the final product. Cannabinoids like HHC don't have to conform to regulations in states that have legalized recreational consumption, so there's a greater risk of contamination. There's also the added concern of overall product quality. But what about other states?

The legality of HHC on a federal level is a little murky. Since it comes from hemp, which is federally legal, an argument could easily be made that HHC is a way to enjoy the effects of THC in any state without breaking the law. However, according to the Federal Analogue Act, the effects of HHC are close enough to those of THC to classify it as a Schedule I controlled substance. Such a law would imply that as long as THC is outlawed, so too is HHC. While you may currently be able to purchase and consume products containing this cannabinoid, it's important to recognize that its legal status isn't clear-cut, and the future isn't necessarily looking better. It could very well soon face the same fate as delta-8, which was initially a legal alternative that states began to target and ban.

There's some speculation that HHC may go undetected in a drug test, though there isn't enough evidence to support this theory. Right now, the limited research that has been conducted suggests that HHC will metabolize into molecules similar to those that are targeted by drug tests. This doesn't mean it will necessarily be detected, but until more information is available, it's definitely not worth the risk. And even if it was undetectable, you would still be susceptible to trace amounts of THC leftover from hydrogenation.


The Final Verdict

HHC shows some promise, but after weighing all the pros and cons, it seems wise to remain cautious for now. It's definitely a cannabinoid to watch, though it's simply too new to know how safe it is to consume, both legally and for your health. There are plenty of other tried and true products on the market that are manufactured by reputable sources, so until there's more information and heavier regulation over HHC, we recommend holding off