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What Is HHC? – What You Need To Know

HHC leaf on clothes line with blue background with "What Is HHC" illustration

We've entered the era of a flourishing cannabinoid market with exciting discoveries being made each day. Alternatives to the usual CBD products and delta 9 products have been emerging rapidly, and one of the newest players to arrive on the scene is HHC.

This compound has been steadily amassing attention and popularity, and you'll soon discover why. 

But what is HHC, to begin with? 

Well, if you're looking to learn more about HHC, you're in luck. In this article, we'll explore the answers to questions you may have, including the following:-

  • How is HHC made?
  • Is HHC safe? 
  • Is HHC natural? 

We'll also look at the differences between HHC vs THC and delta 8 and dive deeper into the effects and potency of HHC. 

What Is HHC?

HHC stands for hexahydrocannabinol, and it is a type of cannabinoid compound that is naturally occurring in the hemp plant.

When diving a little deeper into HHC, you'll realize that HHC is essentially the hydrogenated version of THC. This means that hydrogen atoms were added to the chemical structure of THC to produce HHC.

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Is HHC natural or synthetic?

Well, HHC - like other hemp-derived cannabinoids - can be naturally sourced from hemp plants, but there's a major problem with this. It is only present in tiny quantities in the hemp plant, so manufacturers will have to delegate astronomical amounts of resources to have HHC products made 100% from natural sources. So what creates HHC is terrible news for your wallet.

So, to make HHC widely affordable, manufacturers and experts have devised an economically-viable way to manufacture HHC in the lab. As a result, the HHC products you see in the market are considered semi-synthetic

HHC Vs THC

Now that we've explored what HHC is and how it comes from the cannabis plant, let's also clarify what THC is. There are similarities as well as differences in the structure, source, and benefits of HHC vs THC products.

First off, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is more widely known as delta 9 THC. You may have also heard of its cousin, delta 8. These are the two hemp-derived cannabinoids that are inherently present in cannabis plants.

HHC, delta 8, and delta 9 can all lead to a high upon consumption as both are intoxicating cannabinoids that link to the body's cannabinoid receptors, but the intensity of this lift differs. HHC would land in the middle of both cousins—in other words, HHC is stronger than delta 8 but weaker than delta 9.

If you're interested, we've compiled a comprehensive guide on the similarities and differences between HHC vs delta 8 learn more here.

How Is HHC Made?

We now understand that HHC is typically synthesized in the lab since sourcing it 100% naturally would be what we call mission impossible. And how HHC is made in a lab involves a process called "hydrogenation." 

Delta 9 THC can be converted to HHC through hydrogenation, where a solvent and metal catalyst will also participate in the reaction to enhance its efficacy. 

During the process, the molecule becomes unstable, and this gives hydrogen atoms the chance to swoop into place and stabilize the structure. As a result, hydrogen molecules are added, and a new compound is formed.

An older method of creating an HHC product comes from a conversion from CBD. In this process, artificial gastric juice is utilized.

Similarly, delta 8 THC can also be converted from CBD or delta 9 in the lab. This guide will be helpful if you're keen on knowing how to make delta 8 THC.

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HHC Effects

We'll explore what the HHC high is like a little further by diving deeper into HHC's effects and potency.

HHC can lead to a high that's similar to delta 9. However, HHC's potency is lower compared to delta 9. In other words, its effects and high are less intense or hard-hitting. However, HHC's strength is greater than delta 8 THC, meaning you'll need a lower amount to experience similar effects. Cannabis industry users tend to use delta 8 over HHC as it is a more popular hemp-derived cannabinoid.

HHC's effects lean more towards relaxing, something along the lines of how the delta 8 lift feels. Nonetheless, some anecdotal reports show that high doses of HHC will lead to a more stimulating and euphoric high. 

Conclusively, users will describe HHC's effects as similar to delta 9 THC but less intense and with a delta 8 twist. According to them, it may keep you focused and stimulated throughout the day and support you in maintaining your calm and cool. 

Due to its effects that bring about a relaxing and calming buzz, HHC has gained quite a bit of popularity in the market. HHC is also commonly nicknamed the 'apocalypse-ready' cannabinoid because of its extensive shelf-life and high resistance to degradation. 

Is HHC Safe?

If you're wondering whether HHC is safe—well, there's still a lot to be uncovered. The research on HHC's safety profile is lacking, and most of what we know is based on anecdotal evidence. However, there isn't any striking information that HHC is any less safe than THC. 

Nonetheless, there is currently no FDA-approved use for HHC for medical or health reasons. The question, "Is HHC safe?" also beckons us to explore the possible side effects of HHC. 

Here are some side effects of HHC that users have reported:-

  • Disrupted sleep and insomnia 
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness and confusion 
  • Nausea

Not everyone who consumes HHC will fall victim to its side effects. But those who take HHC in high doses are naturally predisposed to a higher risk of such adverse outcomes. 

When starting out on any new cannabinoid, including HHC, it's best to begin with a lower dose and slowly increase the dose based on how your body responds. Tapering the dose upward in such a manner may help reduce your chances of experiencing unpleasant effects from HHC. 

So the answer to the question, "Is HHC safe?" really depends. So far, no striking dangers in consumption of HHC have been reported with reasonable use and dosages. You should only purchase HHC & THC from vendors that have 3rd party tested their products to ensure the quality is there and the products do not contain trace amounts of other cannabinoids.

However, the odds of side effects differ from person to person, simply because your body may react differently to a compound compared to someone else. 

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Is HHC Legal?

Now, we understand what HHC is, whether it's safe, and what HHC's effects are. The most pressing question that remains is this: "Is HHC legal?

HHC's legality status remains a little murky, but most experts agree that HHC is federally legal based on the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill has altered the legal landscape of cannabinoid compounds and products in a ground-breaking way.

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived products are deemed federally legal if this condition is met: The concentration of delta 9 THC in the product must be less than 0.3% by dried weight. This is great news for cannabis users in the United States.

Since HHC and delta 9 THC are different compounds, HHC gummies are considered legal at a federal level as long as this criterion is met.

Even though it's legal according to federal law, it's best to still keep something in mind. State authorities have a say about whether a specific cannabinoid compound will be legal in the state. This means your state could still consider HHC and even hemp-derived CBD to be the same as controlled substances.

Currently, no state legislature explicitly bans the use, possession, or sale of HHC substances. However, many believe that HHC's legal status follows in delta 8's footsteps. So, it's best to assume that states placing restrictions on delta 8 do the same for HHC.

When purchasing any cannabinoid product, be it HHC gummies or delta 8, ensure you do so from a reliable vendor. For HHC to be considered legal, it must not contain too much delta 9 THC. Hence, third-party testing should be conducted by manufacturers to ensure that this condition is met to safeguard the product's legality.

The results of these third-party tests should be readily available from the vendor as a measure of brand honesty and transparency. Hence, one good way to ensure you're getting your goods from a trustworthy source is by looking out for these Certificates of Analysis (CoA). 

Delta North's Delta 8 Gummies 1000 mg are third-party lab-tested for this exact reason. The Certificate of Analysis has shown that these delta 8 gummies do not contain any detectable traces of delta 9 THC, assuring their compliance with the law. 

Will HHC show up on a drug test?

We've explored what HHC is and concluded that it is a different compound from delta 9 THC. However, it may still show up on a drug test as many tests aren't specific or sophisticated enough to differentiate between THC and its related compounds. 

Some anecdotal reports have noted that HHC gummies will not appear on a drug test, and some manufacturers and vendors have also claimed that HHC will not trigger a positive result. However, this cannot be guaranteed, and it's best to avoid taking HHC leading up to a drug test.

Where To Buy HHC

Since you now better understand what HHC is, you may be keen on getting your hands on some HHC products from cannabis plants. You can purchase HHC gummies from your local vendor or online from the legal cannabis market.

There are numerous online HHC vendors that sell HHC in disposables for inhalation, edibles and tinctures for oral consumption, and concentrates for dabbing. 

Purchasing HHC from cannabis plants online usually gives you access to more shops and choices, and products are typically a little cheaper than in local and physical stores.

Before you purchase any items, ensure that the vendor ships to your state and look out for a Certificate of Analysis to check the compliance, safety, and quality of the products. 

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Final Takeaway: What Is HHC?

HHC is a cannabinoid compound found in small quantities in the Cannabis Sativa plant. It is typically synthesized in the lab via a chemical process known as hydrogenation, allowing HHC products to be widely distributed and enjoyed.

HHC's potency is a little lower compared to delta 9 - though there are inactive HHC molecules - but greater compared to delta 8. However, its effects are more often described as relaxing rather than highly stimulating.

HHC gummies may be suitable for those looking for a moderately-intense high. Plus, the lax restrictions safeguarding its legality make it easier to find and purchase.

But if you're looking for a milder high from the cannabis plant that helps you maintain a sense of calmness throughout the day, delta 8 may be a better option. You can buy delta 8 online or from your local vendor as well.

Say you're keen to learn more about the effects of delta 8. In that case, feel free to check out our guide, "Does Indica make you sleepy or hyper?".

We've also put together an article comparing the effects of HHC vs Delta 8.

Disclaimer: Always speak with a medical doctor before taking hemp products or hemp-derived THC. Information in this blog including the legal status and psychoactive effects of HHC is for informational purposes only.

author avatar
Clayton McCall

Clayton is a Senior Content Specialist, researcher, and holistic healthcare practitioner. Having been in the supplement industry for more than 15 years, Clayton brings a wealth of experience to the delta 8 space. His publications include alternative therapy, stress and coping, and alternative health.

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