Blog

What the Heck is HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol)?

Nov, 2021
Image for What the Heck is HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol)?

In the cannabis industry, the most popular cannabinoids are CBD and THC; however, there’s more to weed than the famous two. Cannabis plants produce over 150 cannabinoids, some present in such trace amounts that you don't even know they're there. It’s almost like when you think you know the numerous cannabinoids in the plant, another one pops up. One such cannabinoid is hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC for short, and it has garnered a lot of attention recently. But, what is HHC, and does it provide any benefits? Elevate Holistics finds out.

HHC; marijuana leaf and oil

What is Hexahydrocannabinol?

So, what exactly is hexahydrocannabinol? HHC is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in cannabis plants; however, it occurs in tiny amounts that the HHC in consumer products is semi-synthetic. Part of it is a product of a lab procedure. This production process involves isolating HHC molecules from the cannabis plant and combining them with a catalyst to form a new compound.

Hexahydrocannabinol was first created in 1944 by Roger Adams, an American organic chemist at the University of Illinois, when he added hydrogen molecules to Delta-9 THC in a process known as hydrogenation. This chemical process converts THC to HHC. One of the reasons for the popularity of Hexahydrocannabinol is its ambiguous legal status. Although it has effects that feel like THC, it is not THC, but should it legally be treated as such?

LEARN MORE: What is CBG? | CBN: Elevate Holistics' Ultimate Guide

How is HHC Made?

Scientists get most of today’s HHC from cannabis. They extract CBD from cannabis then distill and isolate it down to powder form, after which they conduct chemical processes that produce HHC. The hydrogenation process discovered by Adams can also extract hexahydrocannabinol from Delta-8 THC, olivetol, and citronellal.

What Are The Effects of HHC?

HHC has THC-like effects, but it is less potent than THC. Experts are yet to agree on the exact potency of HHC. However, they estimate it to be less powerful than Delta-9 but more potent than Delta-8. Like other cannabis-derived products, scientists are still studying the effects and properties of HHC. But, scientists have discovered one notable characteristic of the compound: its high bioavailability. This refers to how easily your body can break down and absorb a substance.

By contrast, THC and CBD are not completely bioavailable, meaning the body does not fully absorb them. Essentially, the proportion of these cannabinoids that enter your bloodstream isn’t as high as it could be. As a result, we don’t experience the full benefits of the compound. On the other hand, hexahydrocannabinol can metabolize in our bodies more efficiently, creating fuller, more potent results overall.

As for the effects, it varies from person to person depending on your tolerance level and body system.

What Are The Benefits of HHC?

On the benefits of HHC, Liam Burns of Bearly Legal said: “Personally, with HHC, I feel energetic. I go to the gym. I’m sharp; my brain’s working properly. I typically have back and shoulder pain, but I have no pain when I’m on it.”

Also, scientific study has suggested that the benefits of hexahydrocannabinol include cancer-fighting properties. According to a 2011 study, there is a connection between HHC and shrinking tumors in cancer patients. Of course, more evidence is needed here to draw concrete conclusions.

In general, consumers report feeling pain relief, anxiety relief, relaxation, and happiness after consuming this unique cannabinoid.

Does HHC Show Up on A Drug Test?

Consumers’ word-of-mouth says HHC does not show up on a drug test, but there’s no proof for that. If you have a drug test coming up, play it safe and don’t consume hexahydrocannabinol.

LEARN MORE: Are There Jobs That Don't Drug Test?

Is Hexahydrocannabinol Safe to Consume?

HHC; medical professional handling cannabis oil behind cannabis plant

Cannabis-derived products are relatively new on the scene; this means they haven’t been around long enough for their effects to be studied exhaustively. Hence, there is little to no research on the immediate or long-term impact of HHC ingestion. Also, there is no standard HHC dose.

Another gray area is regulation. In states where adult use is legal, cannabis-derived products like hexahydrocannabinol are not regulated. HHC producers and retailers are not required to test their products for potency and purity.

To be on the safe side, carry out your research on cannabis-derived products before you buy them and buy from only dispensaries you trust.

This doesn’t in any way mean that you should turn your back on cannabis-derived products; increased research will lead to standardization and regulation with time.

The law is not explicit on the legal status of HHC; legality is subject to interpretation. Hexahydrocannabinol has been around for decades, but it has been around for less than a year as a consumer product. As a result of its novelty, there’s no actual set of rules in place to regulate its production and distribution.

Barely Legal argues that HHC is legal. The company’s website claims that since HHC is hemp-derived and not THC, they should be in the clear. “HHC vapes, gummies, or edibles are perfectly legal on the federal level and will most likely remain legal on the state level as well,” the website reads.

Producers, distributors, and consumers tend to argue that hexahydrocannabinol is legal because manufacturers derive it from CBD and CBD is legal. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis products derived from CBD are legal as long as they contain 0.3% or less Delta-9 THC.

Not everyone agrees that HHC is lawful, though. Those on the opposing side cite the Federal Analogue Act. This states that we must treat any substance similar to or chemically resembling Schedule I or II drugs as a Schedule I drug. 

Though HHC is not THC, it mimics THC, and since THC is illegal, they believe HHC should be illegal, too.

Understand Hexahydrocannabinol Better With Our Experts’ Help

HHC is not THC, even though its effects are similar to THC. And, the legal status of hexahydrocannabinol is still up for debate. However, legal or not, it is best to avoid HHC if you want a clean drug test result.

Here at Elevate Holistics, we strive to have all the information you need to keep up with the fast-paced cannabis industry. We understand that consumers may find the many terms and concepts overwhelming; that’s why we’ve made it our duty to be your guide on your cannabis journey. Not only are we here to answer your questions, but we can also help you get your MMJ card and link you up with licensed dispensaries. With us, you simply can't go wrong.