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Everything You Need to Know About the Safety, HHC Effects, Legality, & More

The Nation has seen a recent surge in hemp-derived cannabinoids that produce a psychoactive “high”. This includes Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, THC-O, and a few others. There is not much scientific information available on any of these, but the most elusive seems to be hexahydrocannabiniol, otherwise known as HHC.

What is HHC? In this article, we will cover HHC basics including what it is, how it is made, what it does, the safety of HHC, the effects, and the legality.

What is HHC?

There’s many people that still ask “What is HHC?”. HHC stands for Hexahydrocannabinol. It is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid that is produced from the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) molecule. The chemical difference between Hexahydrocannabinol and Tetrahydrocannabinol is the addition of hydrogen atoms in the place of the traditional double bond (see the section below for How is HHC Made). It was first discovered in 1944 by a man named Roger Adams.

There is a lot of contrasting information available regarding the effects and legality of HHC. Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of scientific research available regarding the effects (see the section below for What Does HHC Do). What we do know is based on user reports. As for the legality, this is also a gray area (see the section below for Is HHC Legal). HHC is mostly found in either Vape or Gummy form.

How is HHC Made?

HHC is made with a process called hydrogenation. During hydrogenation, hydrogen atoms are added to a THC molecule. The hydrogen atoms replace the double bond and, Viola, now we have HHC. This is not an uncommon practice. In fact, it is used to convert vegetable oil into margarine. The hydrogenation process needs to be done in a properly constructed lab as there is a risk of explosion (hydrogen is VERY VERY flammable!). 

One cool difference between HHC and THC is that HHC has a longer shelf life. This is because the hydrogen atom is more stable than the double bond which is replaced. This means your HHC products will not break down and lose potency over time like THC products will.

When HHC is produced, there are two different forms, 9R-HHC and 9S-HHC. The 9R molecule attaches to our body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) the same way THC does.The 9S molecule does not. This means the 9R molecule is active (produces a high) while the 9S molecule is not. All HHC products will contain a ratio of 9R:9S. You may wonder why even include 9S if it is not active. This is because it is too costly to separate the two. Usually the ratio will be between 2:1 and 1:1 (9R:9S, active:inactive).

THC molecule
THC Molecule

HHC Molecule

What is HHC? What Does HHC Do? (HHC Effects)

How Potent is HHC?

Determining the potency of an HHC product is not as straightforward as you may think. First of all, there is no hard data on the relative potency between Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC, and HHC. User reports are also conflicting. Some suggest that HHC is less potent than both Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC while others suggest HHC is right in the middle of the two. For this reason, we suggest starting with a small dose and waiting about 4-6 hours before consuming more. This way you can get a feel before diving head first into the highness of HHC. 

On top of all the confusion, there are two different molecules that make up HHC products, one of which is active and the other inactive (see above in the section How is HHC Made). The active molecule (9R-HHC) should make up at least 50% of the HHC product with the remaining being the inactive molecule (9S-HHC). This means that not all HHC products contain the same ratio of 9R:9S. Depending where you buy your HHC, each retailer’s product can have very different levels of potency. Be sure to check for lab-results that detail the ratio of 9R:9S. If you have any questions, a company representative should be able to provide you with an informed answer. 

What Are the Benefits of HHC?

There is a severe lack of scientific research available regarding the effects and benefits HHC may produce. User reports suggest the benefits that you may find when using HHC products are similar to those of other cannabinoids like CBD and THC. This may include pain relief, anxiety relief, sleep aid, and digestive health. 

Is HHC Safe

The use of HHC is not backed by much scientific research as of yet. There are a couple studies that suggest it may be useful to relieve pain and help with anxiety and sleep, but what we know is mostly based on user reports. As with any cannabis product, it is important to check for up-to-date lab results which outline the exact ratio of 9R:9S HHC.

The production of HHC can be extremely dangerous as hydrogen is very, very flammable. It should not be produced outside of a properly constructed and grounded lab.

Is HHC Legal?

The legality of HHC is in a bit of a grey area as it is not specifically outlawed federally, but some states have banned it. The Farm Bill states cannabinoid products derived from hemp must contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. This is similar to the way in which both Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC products are federally legal. HHC is synthesized from Delta-8 THC which was derived from hemp. This brings us to another possible point of contention; HHC is considered to be semi-synthesized and this could present legality problems.

The states that have outlawed HHC include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah.

Will I Fail A Drug Test After Using HHC?

Short answer: We do not know. It is speculated that HHC will not metabolize into the metabolite that triggers a positive marijuana drug test*, but we do not know for certain. It is best to play it safe and avoid HHC if you have an upcoming drug test.

Where to Find High-Quality HHC Products

To find HHC products that you can trust are made with the high-quality you deserve, be sure to look for lab results that detail the ratio of 9R:9S HHC. You want at least 50% 9R (1:1) as this is the active HHC molecule. Because each HHC extract contains a different ratio of 9R:9S, depending on where you purchase your HHC product, the effects may vary. One product may be stronger than another. For that reason, we suggest documenting your HHC intake.

Check the lab report for the ratio of 9R:9S and then mark down how you feel after using the product. This way, you can begin to develop a better understanding of how a dose of HHC will affect you. IF you have any questions, a company representative should be able to provide with you an informed answer.

What is HHC
What is HHC?

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