What is HHC and Why Is It So Popular?
When it comes to cannabinoids, there are some that are well-established with widely known effects and there are others that are relatively new to the cannabis community. HHC definitely falls into the latter category. With that being said, HHC, or Hexahydrocannabinol in scientific long form, isn’t a newly discovered compound by any stretch of the imagination. It has actually been known for almost 80 years. While HHC isn’t new from a molecular standpoint, its rarity in the Cannabis sativa plant has made it difficult to isolate previously.
In an ever-expanding market, it seems like there is a race to pin down the new and hot cannabis-derived product. While some new cannabinoids seem to be slightly gimmicky, HHC has proven to be the real deal from user accounts. This article covers HHC in detail and outlines why it is growing to become one of the most popular cannabinoids on the market today.
What is HHC?
In the most basic terms, HHC is a phytocannabinoid. Just like many other cannabinoids that you have likely heard of – THC, CBD, and Delta-8 all included – hexahydrocannabinol is a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. While HHC is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid, it is only produced by hemp and marijuana plants in extremely small quantities. Due to the fact that it is hard to gather enough purely natural HHC to make it a commercially viable product, HHC is often offered in semi-synthetic form. We’ll cover that process in just a minute.
Like its cousin THC, HHC is a psychoactive substance. The two cannabinoids share a very similar molecular structure, mainly differentiated by the position of a carbon bond. With that being said, HHC is said to produce subdued effects in comparison to THC.
Since HHC is still a relatively new-to-market product, the ways of consuming it are somewhat limited at this point. HHC is most often consumed in the form of vape cartridges. As we begin to learn more and more about HHC and find new ways of extracting the compound, there will likely be other forms of it in the future.
How Is HHC Made?
Since HHC is produced in such small quantities in nature, scientists have found a way to synthesize the compound in a semi-natural way. In fact, HHC is now synthesized in a similar way to how it was back in 1944 through the process of hydrogenation. You can kind of piece together how that process takes place from the name. In essence, delta-9 THC is converted into HHC via the process of adding additional hydrogen atoms to its chemical structure. The overall process is relatively simple, saturating THC in hydrogen and introducing the mixture to high pressure and a metallic catalyst.
As a result, the double bond structure within the THC molecule is broken and replaced with two hydrogen atoms. The resulting compound is HHC. So, as you can guess, THC and HHC are chemically very similar, with the only difference being the presence of those hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen structure also makes HHC a more stable compound than THC, which makes it a more resilient molecule to degradation.
So, while HHC is technically synthesized most of the time, it has its roots in the delta-9 THC compound that we all know and love.
What is HHC Good For?
When it comes to the effects and uses of HHC, it functions in a very similar way to THC and therefore shares quite a few similar common uses. As such, it is said that HHC is good for pain relief, anxiety relief, relaxation, inflammation, and as a sleep aid. While HHC benefits that fall outside of those shared benefits with THC are less known. Some evidence points to the fact that HHC has the potential to effectively slow the spread of cancerous tumor growth as well.
Due to the fact that HHC is significantly less potent than delta-9 THC, HHC might be the better option for those who tend to experience negative psychoactive effects when smoking or ingesting regular cannabis products. Despite being less psychoactive, HHC seems to retain the more pleasant properties inhibited by delta-9 THC.
Does HHC Help With Pain?
While the jury is still out in a scientific sense regarding the exact role that HHC plays in pain relief, what we know about THC’s role in pain alleviation is applicable to HHC as well. That simply boils down to the structural similarities between the two compounds. Many of HHC’s proposed pain-relieving benefits stem from the compound’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. HHC relieves pain by reducing the sensitivity of pain receptors in the brain. In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties also provide relief by reducing localized sensitivity.
As time goes on and we begin to get a better grasp of the medicinal benefits of HHC as an individual compound, more detailed information is bound to arise. However, with the anecdotal user information that has been gathered since HHC products hit the market, it is a very promising cannabinoid in the area of pain relief.
What Forms Does HHC Come In?
Since HHC is a rare cannabinoid compared to delta-9 THC or CBD, it is a difficult compound to isolate in large qualities. HHC isn’t the only cannabinoid to present challenges to companies trying to make it widely available to the general public, with THCV being another example. While HHC is difficult to isolate and synthesize in some instances, that isn’t to say that it hasn’t been done.
HHC products typically come in the form of either a vape cartridge or tincture containing pure HHC oil. Silver Owl CBD provides one of the best HHC disposable vapes on the market, offering four different popular strains. On the tincture front, Silver Owl provides a naturally derived Super 6 tincture containing a mixture of MCT oil, Delta-8 oil, Delta-10 oil, HHC oil, THCV oil, and THCP oil. While it isn’t a strictly HHC product, the Super 6 tincture is a popular tincture that harnesses the properties of HHC to provide instant relaxation. If you are planning on giving THCV a go, a tincture is a solid route as it absorbs quickly under your tongue and enters the bloodstream rapidly.
Does HHC Get You Stoned?
Compared to delta-9 THC which is significantly more potent than HHC, hexahydrocannabinol will indeed get you stoned, but not to the same extent as Delta-9 THC. Of course, the intensity of an HHC high varies significantly based on dosage.
HHC interacts with your brain and endocannabinoid system in a very similar way to THC. Like the most potent compound, HHC binds to receptors in your brain and endocannabinoid system which produces its psychoactive effects. However, due to the modified chemical structure, HHC isn’t as effective at binding to these receptors as regular THC.
According to many users of multiple different cannabinoids, it is generally said that the high produced by HHC falls between the intensity of delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC, meaning that it is a good bridge if you aren’t receiving the desired effects of delta-8, but find full-strength THC to be too overwhelming. In comparison to the other two compounds, it is also said that HHC produces a more invigorating and less drowsy high.
Is HHC Legal?
The legality of HHC is an interesting topic to tackle, as there are technically a few right answers to that question. In the end, for federal legality purposes at least, it boils down to what plant the HHC was derived from. HHC can be derived from either marijuana or hemp plants, which can make the difference between federally legal HHC and illegal HHC. Due to the 2018 Farm Bill which made hemp-derived cannabinoid products federally legal to manufacture and purchase, HHC extracted from hemp plants, rather than marijuana, is technically federally legal.
If HHC is derived from marijuana, it may be considered a Schedule 1 drug in the future on the grounds that it is a structural analog to tetrahydrocannabinol. There is legal framework in place which might make HHC and other similar cannabinoids the target of federal intervention in the future. The Federal Analog Act could have implications for HHC unless a strong case can be made that it is chemically diverse enough from THC to fall outside of the Act’s parameters.
At this point in time, however, HHC is unregulated and is not explicitly prohibited in the eyes of the U.S. federal government.
Will HHC Cause You To Fail A Drug Test?
As a general rule, it is not a good idea to smoke or consume any HHC hexahydrocannabinol products if you have a routine drug test coming up. Due to the fact that HHC has a similar molecular structure to delta-9 THC, HHC can absolutely cause you to fail a drug test. While there aren’t any tests that target HHC directly, its similarity to other intoxicating cannabinoids makes it likely to trigger a positive result.
Depending on how frequently you ingest HHC, the compound can stay in your system for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. While there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to say for sure how long the HHC cannabinoid stays in your system, it can be generally assumed that the half-life of HHC is similar to THC. Frequent HHC users can expect the compound to be detectable for up to 14 days depending on multiple factors including individual metabolic rates, the potency of the HHC product, and whether or not the product contains other cannabinoids. For light hexahydrocannabinol users, that number could be significantly less.
HHC Takeaways and Summary
Despite being a relatively new compound to the consumer market, HHC has displayed a tremendous amount of promise in its short time on the shelf. Like many other cannabinoids, HHC presents unique properties that might make it the best option for someone looking for a mild cannabis alternative with many of the same beneficial properties.
With a very similar chemical makeup to delta-9 THC, HHC hexahydrocannabinol shares many of the same benefits as the more potent compound. The primary difference between the two is the addition of hydrogen to the delta-9 chemical makeup which alters its characteristics slightly. While still interacting with the CB1 receptors in the brain, HHC isn’t quite as efficient at binding to the receptors, making it slightly less psychoactive.
Most HHC users claim that the compound falls somewhere between delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC in terms of potency level, making it a good option for those looking for a more pronounced effect than delta-8 is able to produce without becoming overwhelming. Since HHC is so closely related to THC in terms of chemical makeup, it is likely to cause you to fail a drug test. As such, it is a good idea to avoid hexahydrocannabinol products if you have a test coming up.
Overall, HHC is a promising new product that we still have a lot to learn about. With that being said, it can be assumed to have very similar pain relief, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory effects to THC without the extreme headiness that comes with the more psychoactive compound.