What is HHC?

What is HHC?

HHC’s government name is a little more clunky: it’s named hexahydrocannabinol. HHC was first synthesized in 1944 by Roger Adams. He figured out that you could hydrogenate THC and other cannabinoids, which changes a lot about the compounds and how they interact with your body. 

To “hydrogenate” Delta-9 THC (or another cannabinoid) means to add hydrogen molecules to the compound, thereby changing the structure of the cannabinoid and the effects it has on consumers.

But you don’t need to remember that. If you’re going to take anything away from this article, let it be that HHC is a common federally legal alternative to marijuana and Delta-8 THC

Is HHC Legal?


All (federally legal) HHC on the market is hemp-derived, unlike the HHC first produced in 1944, which was derived from a high-THC cannabis plant. In contrast, hemp is classified as a low-THC cannabis plant.

HHC is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill because—much like Delta-8 THC, CBD, and other alternative cannabinoids—as long as it is hemp-derived and lab-tested by a third party to show that it is below 0.3% Delta-9 THC.

What does HHC Do?

HHC is essentially a less potent form of the federally illicit Delta-9 THC compound, much like Delta-8 is. 

Most HHC on the market contains two versions of the HHC molecule: 9R HHC and 9S HHC. The 9R HHC compound successfully binds to your body’s cannabinoid receptors in much the same way that Delta-8 THC does. However, 9S HHC does not bind as successfully as 9R HHC, meaning an HHC product may be more or less effective depending on its chemical makeup. 

Strains with more 9R HHC and less 9S HHC should be slightly less potent than Delta-8 THC. And because Delta-8 THC is commonly regarded as about 50-80% as potent as Delta-9 THC, that means that most HHC products you’ll come across should be about 25-75% as potent as comparable Delta-9 THC products, and about 50-90% as potent as Delta-8 THC ones.

Does HHC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Here’s where it gets tricky. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that HHC will not raise any red flags during a drug test, but since there is no extensive scientific evidence, these claims remain only anecdotal for now. 

Liam Burns, Founder and CEO of Bearly Legal Hemp, claims that there is anecdotal evidence that HHC will not trigger a positive drug test. James Stephens, a VP at Creo, said that some advertisements claim that HHC cannot convert into the 11-hydroxy-THC that functions as a common metabolite for drug tests, which would mean that HHC could evade 

We always suggest that you should avoid expecting any cannabinoid products to bypass a drug test. If your life—your job, your parole hearings, etc.—depends on a passed drug test, then you should try to avoid using any cannabis products for at least 10 days leading up to the test (more time is required for more seasoned users).

Is HHC Safe and Effective?

Because HHC is less regulated than Delta-9 THC or even CBD, there are inherent risks with buying HHC products. You’ll want to make sure that any HHC products you buy come with third-party lab tests, double checking that they contain less than the legal limit of Delta-9 THC (0.3%) and no fillers, preservatives, pesticides, or other nasty additives.

We find that recommendations from experienced people close to you are sometimes the best way to find the best, most trusted products and brands. Stay tuned for our ranking of the best HHC products out there!

HHC’s effectiveness can vary. As mentioned above, the potency of an HHC product will likely depend on the proportion of 9R HHC molecules to 9S HHC molecules. This means you may find some HHC products that are more potent than others. Typically, good HHC products will be around 25-75% as potent as Delta-9 THC, and about 50-90% as potent as Delta-8 THC.

Why Do People Vape HHC?

Many people vape HHC for the same reasons they may vape Delta-8 THC: it’s a federally legal substitute for Delta-9 THC that is less potent and more discreet. Plus, HHC has the added benefit of being legal federally while also not being banned in any states (yet). Delta-8 THC, on the other hand, has been made illegal in certain states.

Vaping HHC, Delta-8, or other cannabinoids makes the consumption easier and more discreet. You don’t need to lug around a bowl or papers (or even a lighter!), you can just pull the vape cartridge and its battery out of your pocket and you’re ready to go! 

Vapes also make it easier to dose yourself appropriately: by adjusting the strength and length of your hits, you can adjust your intake. This is very different from inhaling an entire bowl or pre-roll worth of cannabis, where you may only realize you consumed too much once it’s too late. 

Taking too big of a dose of cannabis (specifically Delta-9 THC, but other cannabinoids as well) can negatively affect your experiences with the substance, and is one of the biggest reasons why people sometimes have experiences with cannabis that are tinted with paranoia and anxiety.

If Delta-9 THC (weed, pot, cannabis, mary jane, etc.) makes you feel paranoid, anxious, or like you may have just did way more drugs than you were supposed to, then HHC and Delta-8 vapes may be right for you.

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