The HHC vs. THC debate has been on the rise since mid to late 2022. Nearly a year later, the debates have gotten more interesting as the popularity and use of HHC spread.
At Elevate Holistics, we’re all about bringing clarity to everything cannabis so that our patients and readers have a well-informed understanding of what’s what in the industry.
That being said: what are the similarities and differences between THC and HHC? Is HHC stronger than delta 8 or delta 9?
Let’s find out.
HHC is the acronym for hexahydrocannabinol, a rare, naturally-occurring cannabinoid in hemp, just like THC and CBD. However, HHC occurs in significantly lesser amounts than THC and CBD.
Due to its rarity, the HHC available in cannabis-derived products is lab-produced to meet commercial demands, making HHC a semi-synthetic cannabinoid (SSC).
A typical lab production of HHC involves the catalytic hydrogenation of hemp-derived delta-9 THC (commonly known as THC), the primary psychoactive substance. HHC is a saturated isomer of THC.
Hydrogenation — that is, the addition of hydrogen atoms to a compound — is partly what gives HHC the unique properties that separate it from other THC isomers and derivatives, such as delta-8 and delta-10.
Going further, HHC has two stereoisomers: 9R HHC and 9S-HHC, with the 9R-HHC being slightly stronger than 9S because it binds better to cannabinoid receptors.
To circumvent legality issues and meet market demands, most HHC and HHC products in the market are derived from CBD extracted from hemp. This process is more convenient because the 2018 Farm Bill makes hemp federally legal, and this legality arguably extends to hemp-derived substances.
We’ve unpacked everything there is to know about HHC here.
THC is the primary active ingredient and psychoactive compound in cannabis plants. In other words, you can thank THC for making you feel euphoric and giggly after some weed.
It is also known as Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabinol, Δ9-THC, delta-9, or delta-9 THC; however, THC is the most common term in use.
In some literature, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) serves as an umbrella term for other variants, including:
- Delta-9 THC
- Delta-8 THC
- Delta-10 THC
- THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- THC-V (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
- THC-P (Tetrahydrocannabiphorol)
In this THC vs. HHC post, all mentions of THC refer to delta-9 THC. Other variants will be specified.
Of all the variants, THC has the most potency because it has a stronger affinity to the cannabinoid receptors in humans’ endocannabinoid system. This system plays diverse roles in the regulation of appetite, mood, and sensation of pain.
HHC vs. THC: The Differences
So far, we know that HHC is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid that could be derived by adding hydrogen to THC.
Does that make HHC more or less potent than THC? Does it make HHC offer the same effects as THC?
Although both substances have similar chemical structures, there are marked differences in their effects, potency, composition, and even how governments and the people perceive their legality.
Let’s take a look at HHC THC differences across these subjects.
On the one hand, the effects of THC on humans are well-documented across various scientific research materials and platforms.
On the other hand, only a few animal studies cover an overall review of HHC effects. Results from these studies showed that HHC seems to have broadly similar effects to THC. However, there are no studies indicating the psychological and behavioral effects of HHC on humans.
THC causes significant highness and is effective in relieving and managing pain and other symptoms of medical conditions for which doctors prescribe medical cannabis.
Users report that HHC provides a less intense high and doesn’t come with the paranoia that most people associate with THC. Also, HHC has more long-lasting effects than THC.
Many users also claim that the effects of HHC are more similar to those experienced with delta-8 THC than with THC. Thus, the basis for HHC vs. delta 8 THC debates.
Generally, users seem to agree that contrary to THC, which could cause intense euphoria in some individuals, HHC has the advantage of being more relaxing rather than euphoric.
No peer-reviewed research has examined the potency of HHC, so most of what’s currently known about the strength of HHC are anecdotes and haphazard surveys. Most consumers claim that although HHC has long-lasting effects, it packs just about 50% of the strength of THC.
On the other hand, the potency of THC is not up for argument. In fact, THC is the benchmark for measuring the potency of buds and cannabis-derived products; the higher the THC, the stronger the product or bud.
For context, weed strains such as Godfather OG, with 30-35% THC content, are largely regarded as forbidden fruits for novices and casual cannabis users. Also, concentrates with 80-96% THC content are simply no-go areas, even for some veterans.
Users report that even in products that claim to have 99% HHC, the potency is more similar to delta-8 THC than THC.
THC is the reason cannabis is federally illegal in the United States and most of Europe. The only federally legal form of cannabis cultivar in both regions is hemp, and that’s because they have less than 0.3% THC content. Europe permits less than 0.2% THC content in hemp.
Being that hemp is legal, manufacturers synthesize HHC from hemp. And that’s why HHC products are abundant across the U.S., even in states that are yet to legalize cannabis.
Therefore, HHC gets the advantage in the THC vs. HHC legality comparison.
Note that in states like Kansas, North Carolina, and South Dakota, where CBD is conditionally legal, using HHC and other CBD-derived products could land you on the wrong side of the law.
Generally, the HHC THC legality comparison is a dicey debate in states where CBD is conditionally legal. It’s best to check legality at the local level before you buy HHC online.
Commercial HHC is created in labs by processing hemp-derived THC with hydrogen gas and catalysts. Therefore, HHC is classified as a semi-synthetic compound.
THC occurs naturally in cannabis plants—it is not a product of the synthesis of various chemical compounds.
Because HHC is largely unregulated and just about any manufacturer could synthesize it in their labs without obligation to obtain a certificate of analysis (COA), there are widespread concerns that HHC and HHC products may contain harmful impurities.
THC vs. HHC: Which is Better?
At Elevates Holistics, our stance in the HHC vs. THC debate is that THC is generally better than HHC due to the following reasons:
- HHC fails in the HHC THC comparisons due to a lack of production regulations, despite being a semi-synthetic cannabinoid. THC, which is natural, has regulations to ensure the purity of THC products in the market, especially those made for medical purposes.
- If one must go for a synthetic product, some lab-tested, therapeutic synthetic THC products exist for that purpose.
- Numerous peer-reviewed research materials examined THC’s potential and effects before declaring it safe for consumption. Peer-reviewed research on HHC is extremely scarce at the moment.
Also, when it comes to potency for pain relief and anti-inflammation, which are the reason most patients seek medical cannabis, users claim that HHC does not hold a candle to THC.
In this case, users liken HHC to delta-8; thus, inspiring the “Is HHC stronger than delta 8” debate.
HHC vs. Delta 8
Delta 8 always pops up when users from online cannabis communities discuss the efficacy of HHC. Comments often mention that HHC effects are almost nothing like THC but much closer to delta 8.
The only difference when discussing HHC vs. delta 8 is the chemical structure; delta 8 has a double bond in the carbon ring. Therefore, it is important to understand the HHC vs. delta 8 dynamic.
There are conflicting reports on the level of highness caused by both substances. Most people claim delta 8 has a more subtle high, while others claim otherwise. But the ever-important question remains: is HHC stronger than delta 8?
Is HHC Stronger Than Delta 8?
There is no consensus on which is stronger as there is no large-scale empirical research on the subject. Different CBD experts hold different views on the strength of both substances.
However, if you’re looking for what’s stronger based on the ability to induce highness, HHC appears to be a better contender.
If, for you, stronger means better sleep, improved mood, and likelihood to reduce inflammation, delta 8 seems to be the better contender.
Knowing Cannabinoids Better With Elevate Holistics
There are loads of cannabis-related information out there, and it’s easy to get confused about what’s the truth.
At Elevate Holistics, we acknowledge that prevention is a better cure. Therefore, it’s always best to avoid taking cannabis-derived products with limited medical research and unverified safety.
We encourage all our patients to be cautious when trying out new cannabis products, especially when they come with a lot of media or internet hype but lack medical research validation.
Also, beyond the HHC THC conundrum, feel free to ask us about any new cannabis-derived substance you’re seeing for the first time and feel uncertain of.
If the lack of a medical marijuana card is why, when faced with HHC vs. THC, you opt for HHC products rather than top-quality medical cannabis, then you have nothing to worry about.
In three quick and easy steps, we can help you get qualified for medical cannabis and obtain your MMJ card in the comfort of your home.
Click here or the button below to take the first step.