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What is HHC and why is it so popular?

Among the huge craze of hemp-derived cannabinoids overtaking the country, delta 8 THC, delta-O THC, and delta-10 THC just being a few among them, very little of them have evaded public understanding more than HHC (also known as hexahydrocannabinol). Searching up the compound brings up a host of different information: what are the effects, Is it legal, and is it natural? This blog will go in depth about these details.

Hemp-derived HHC isn’t THC, but it offers a THC-esque experience.

Making sense of HHC is a bit complicated in part because it has only recently reached the market and only a handful of retailers are selling it, mostly in the form of vape carts. The cannabinoid offers lots of potential, however; don’t be surprised if you start hearing more about it soon.

As state and federal agencies continue to outlaw delta-8 THC, the most popular hemp-derived cannabinoid, HHC offers a tiny bit more legal promise—and appeal—since it’s not actually a THC compound at all. It may also elude drug test, although the evidence for that is purely anecdotal at this point.

HHC is one of our fastest growing products we’d like to say, having it in our local store for only a couple weeks and freshly online, there’s been quite some hype around it. We believe it’s partially due to regulations of certain states banning Delta-8 and 10 products, while HHC is in a whole new category. Although, many people in legal states are enjoying it as well.

What is HHC, anyway?

HHC was first created in 1944 by the American chemist Roger Adams, when he added hydrogen molecules to Delta-9 THC. This process, known as hydrogenation, converts THC to hexahydrocannabinol (HHC).

Hydrogenation isn’t limited to cannabinoid production, it’s actually not new at all, as there’s a similar process used to convert vegetable oil to margarine.

While HHC was created from conventional THC, these days the cannabinoid is typically derived through a process that begins with hemp, the low-THC version of the plant that was made federally legal by Congress in the 2018 farm bill, which in turn is allowing HHC to thrive legally..

How is HHC made?

There’s quite a few steps to the process. First, CBD is extracted from raw hemp, distilled and isolated in a powder form. From there, things get a little more complicated.

Hemp-derived CBD acts as the base for the chemical reaction that creates HHC.

HHC manufacturing is a proprietary process that takes place inside a chemical reactor. You can go into detail and describe the process, but to put it simply. You put CBD into the reactor, and out comes HHC. Before distilling HHC, it comes out as a very viscous, golden oil.

Is it safe to make HHC?

Richard Sams, scientific director at KCA Laboratories in Nicholasville, Kentucky, has tested HHC products in the past few months. He’s claimed, HHC can be produced safely in a well-equipped laboratory. But if you scale up production, he said, the risks rise, too. “The potential risk here is actually with explosions,” he explained.

What Are The Effects of HHC?

HHC has almost identical effects as THC, although the dosage may vary depending on the consumer. Many users report the effects of HHC are similar to that of delta 8 THC. Think of Delta 10 as a sativa, Delta 8 as a hybrid, and HHC as a indica. HHC is more potent than delta 8 but slightly less potent than delta 9 THC.

HHC is still very new, so there aren’t many studies available to evaluate its potential therapeutic effects — but so far, it seems this cannabinoid offers most of the same effect profile as other forms of THC. Plus there has been people smoking it on a daily basis with no reports of severe side-effects.

With HHC, all the double bonds have been broken and replaced with hydrogen (AKA hydrogenation).

How potent is HHC?

There is a lack of consensus around HHC’s potency. The complication arises, in part, from the fact that when the cannabinoid is manufactured, the end result is a mixture of two different kinds of HHC molecules:  9R HHC actively binds to the body’s natural endocannabinoid receptors, while 9S HHC, because of its slightly different molecular structure, doesn’t do so nearly as well.

“The one that fits [into the receptors] produces similar effects” as delta-9 THC, but takes a much higher amount to do so, said Richard Sams of KCA Laboratories. “With a sufficient dose, THC-like effects can be observed.”

In other words, HHC can have THC-like effects on the body and mind, but HHC is less potent, milligram-per-milligram, than delta-9 THC, however at this time it is unclear exactly to what extent.

Does HHC show up on a drug test?

We believe that some of HHC’s appeal stems from evidence suggesting that it can evade testing. But—and this is important—he acknowledges the evidence is only anecdotal. This is just what he’s hearing from his customers.

James Stephens, vice-president of innovation at Creo, a biotech firm specializing in cannabinoids, has seen similar arguments made about HHC. “I’ve also seen it advertised that [HHC] doesn’t convert into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is a common drug test metabolite,” he said. “It could possibly be used to evade drug testing regimes if this proves to be true,” he added.

Word to the wise: There is no hard evidence that HHC does not show up on a drug test for THC. Don’t bet your job or career on anecdotal evidence.

Is HHC safe to consume?

Like any of the new hemp-derived cannabinoids, there is no standard dose and little to no research on the immediate or long-term effects of HHC ingestion.

Because hemp-derived cannabinoids (including HHC) are not subject to THC regulations in legal adult-use states, HHC product makers and retailers are not required to test their products for potency and purity.

We, however, require lab tests to be provided to us before we take in a product and being to sell it.

And now we arrive at perhaps the thorniest question of all: Is HHC legal?

We would argue, yes. Since HHC is hemp-derived, and not actually 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.

Company officials additionally argue that since HHC is found in the seeds and pollen of hemp plants, it is “non-synthetic” and thus a “perfectly federally legal hemp extraction.”

For the moment, HHC products exist (and thrive) in the murky legal zone between hemp (which is legal nationwide) and THC (which is not).