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What is HHC and how does it differ from THC?

Following the tremendous success of delta 8 THC as a legal alternative to the more tightly controlled availability of delta 9 THC, the cannabis business has sought additional lesser-known cannabinoids to compete in the broad cannabis marketplace. Tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated HHC, is one of the newest and most promising.

What exactly is HHC?


Researchers have known about HHC for a while, but until recently, cannabis users hardly ever brought it up. HHC is a cousin of THC. HHC is a minor cannabinoid found naturally in cannabis but in insufficient quantities to make extraction cost-effective. Because commercial manufacturing of HHC is still in its early stages, it is not widely known.

Changing the chemistry of the molecules allows most cannabinoids to transform into other cannabinoids. Commercial HHC, like delta 8 THC and delta 10 THC, is created in a lab using chemical methods from hemp-derived CBD. Unlike delta eight and delta 10, HHC has one important legal benefit over them: it is not referred to as THC.

How is HHC created?


Chemist Roger Adams discovered HHC in the 1940s. He made HHC by introducing hydrogen into the THC molecule and modifying its physical characteristics. The first description of the hydrogenation method appeared in a 1947 patent publication.

By replacing a double bond with two hydrogen atoms, hydrogenation changes the structure of delta-9 THC, increasing its molecular weight and improving its stability. According to scientist and BR Brands Chief Science Officer Mark Scialdone, hydrogenation improves “stability and resistance to thermo-oxidative breakdown,” HHC has a longer shelf life and is less susceptible to UV radiation and heat damage.

Is HHC psychoactive? Are there any side effects?


This is a little tricky. Although HHC is not officially a THC, it has similar effects when used in sufficient quantities. When manufactured in the lab, an HHC batch is a mixture of active and inactive HHC molecules. The active HHC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in your body, while the others do not.

Manufacturers haven’t worked out a cost-effective technique to separate high-potency HHC from its low-potency twin, so commercial HHC—a combination of the two forms—may be a gamble for the customer. However, HHC has discernible impacts. According to user reports, the HHC high is between delta eight and 9 THC.

Almost all we know about the effects and adverse effects of HHC is anecdotal. However, users report the same adverse effects as delta 9 THC users, including anxiety and paranoia, dry mouth, dry and red eyes, hunger, and insomnia.

Will HHC be detected in a drug test?


It appears that HHC does not degrade in the body in the same manner as THC. In contrast to the delta 8, delta 9, and delta ten forms of THC, there is some evidence that HHC does not convert into 11-hydroxy-THC, the breakdown chemical many drug panels tests for.

However, this has not been explored and is not confirmed. So yes, no one can guarantee that HHC will not leave traces of its use in your blood, urine, or hair. If your workplace tests for drug use, we recommend you avoid using HHC.

Is there medical coverage under HHC?


HHC has not been extensively researched, unlike more plentiful cannabinoids such as delta 9 THC or CBD. However, there have been some encouraging studies. According to a 2011 study, some synthetic analogs of tetrahydrocannabinol (HHC) “substantially reduced breast cancer cell-induced angiogenesis and tumor growth.” In 2007, Japanese researchers published a report revealing HHC’s remarkable pain-blocking capabilities in mice. However, it is probably too early to tell whether HHC has great therapeutic potential.

Is HHC legal, and will it remain so?


In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress made the hemp plant and all of its derivatives federally legal—as long as the plant or anything made from it has less than 0.3 percent delta 9 THC.

Although hemp-derived cannabinoids can be hydrogenated under pressure with a catalyst like palladium to produce commercial HHC, HHC is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. The National Cannabis Industry Association describes the result as a “semi-synthetic” cannabis molecule.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed in May 2022 that delta 8 THC was allowed under the Farm Bill hemp classification and that all other hemp chemicals and derivatives are also legal, as long as they do not include more than the legal maximum of 0.3 percent delta 9 THC. This appears to make HHC a lawful hemp product and protects HHC manufacturers and dealers (as well as delta eight and delta 10 THC, THC-O, and THCP). However, some attorneys stress that other federal courts may reach different judgments.

Individual states may still prohibit the use of HHC. This is likely if HHC becomes popular enough to jeopardize legal cannabis sales, as we’ve seen with delta 8 THC.

Where can I find HHC?


According to reports, only one producer in the United States produces HHC and sells it wholesale. We’re not sure if that’s accurate, but not many companies make it. As a result, just a few companies are selling HHC at retail, and they haven’t been doing so for long.

A quick Google search yielded approximately a dozen online merchants selling a wide range of HHC items. Most vendors sell vape carts using HHC oil, and many also sell candy. Disposable HHC vapes, tinctures for oral administration, and concentrates for dabbing are less frequent but available. At least one business sells “HHC flower,” hemp flower coated or infused with HHC.

If HHC continues to become legal, especially if manufacturing high-potency HHC becomes less expensive, this promising cannabinoid will become more widely available in the diversified cannabis market.

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