Cannabis is unarguably one of the most popular medicinal herbs. The plant contains numerous naturally occurring, pharmacologically beneficial compounds called cannabinoids.
You must already be familiar with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). That’s because these happen to be the most common and widely studied marijuana compounds. However, there are at least 130 more cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
Some of the additional cannabinoids in weed, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), have received decent publicity. Others, such as delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, and HHC, have recently started to generate mainstream attention.
In this post, we narrow down our attention to HHC, focusing on whether HHC products can get you high or not.
What Is HHC?
HHC is short for Hexahydrocannabinol. It refers to a hydrogenated form of tetrahydrocannabinol – the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana.
HHC is a lesser-known cannabinoid that exists in cannabis only in trace concentrations. Although it was discovered way back in the 1940s by Roger Adams, it’s only recently that the compound has garnered considerable attention.
Like THC, CBD, and other more popular cannabinoids, HHC occurs naturally in marijuana. But as you shall find, the compound can also be manufactured in the lab.
HHC’s Chemical Formula, Chemical Structure, and Composition
Hexahydrocannabinol has a chemical formula of C21H32O2 and a molar mass of 316.485 g·mol−1. The compound contains five carbon side chains and two diastereomers at its methyl (9) position.
In terms of molecular structure and composition, HHC can be made from CBD, delta 8 THC, or delta 9 THC. However, the compound differs significantly from delta 8 and delta 9 in the presence of a double bond.
Unlike delta 8 and 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, Hexahydrocannabinol lacks a double bond in its cyclohexyl ring. Instead, HHC features hydrogen atoms where the double bond would occur.
How Is HHC Extracted?
Hexahydrocannabinol occurs naturally in cannabis, albeit in trace amounts. That means HHC can be obtained from marijuana by natural methods.
The process would typically start by isolating cannabidiol from fresh cannabis extracts, then adding suitable solvents and acids to the CBD to form THC. Since HHC is a natural form of THC, leaving the reaction to proceed for some hours under controlled environments would result in significant amounts of HHC.
However, the fact that Hexahydrocannabinol exists naturally in cannabis but only in tiny concentrations makes it economically unviable to extract the compound naturally. Most commercially produced HHC products are manufactured in the laboratory by hydrogenating hemp-derived cannabinoids.
Hemp is a cannabis variant that yields higher concentrations of cannabidiol than tetrahydrocannabinol. Cannabis plants that produce more THC than CBD belong in the marijuana group, although “marijuana” is also commonly used interchangeably with “cannabis.”
How Does The Hydrogenation Process Work?
Hydrogenating hemp-derived cannabinoids is a process that takes place under controlled pressure and temperature conditions, and usually with the aid of heavy metals as catalysts. Common catalysts used include palladium, platinum, nickel, or zinc catalyst.
Hydrogenation modifies the molecular structure of delta 9 THC by replacing the compound’s double bond with two hydrogen atoms. The replacement of delta 9’s double bond with hydrogen atoms causes significant changes in HHC’s molecular weight while making the compound more stable.
One benefit of manufacturing Hexahydrocannabinol as a hydrogenated form of THC is that the process produces more HHC than natural extraction methods. Also, as already indicated, hydrogenation yields HHC that’s more stable and resistant to thermo-oxidative breakdown. In other words, HHC manufactured by hydrogenation has a longer shelf life and is less susceptible to the damage caused by UV light, heat, and other forms of UV exposure.
THC is highly unstable and prone to oxidation and degradation in its natural form. When THC oxidizes, the compound loses hydrogen atoms, whose places are taken by two new double bonds. This results in CBN, a cannabinoid that delivers only around 10% of THC’s psychoactive effects. Therefore, HHC is more stable than most other THC analogs.
Is HHC A Natural or Synthetic Compound?
Most hemp products are generally considered natural because they’re extracted directly from fresh cannabis extracts. But as we’ve seen, Hexahydrocannabinol may also be obtained synthetically in the laboratory via hydrogenation, which entails replacing delta 9 THC’s double bond with two hydrogen molecules.
According to researchers at the National Cannabis Industry Association, cannabinoids obtained by the hydrogenation method are considered semi-synthetic. Therefore, HHC products are semi-synthetic cannabinoids.
Will HHC Get You High?
Like other THC alternatives, such as delta 9 THC and delta 8 THC, Hexahydrocannabinol produces mind-altering effects. So, it goes that HHC will get you high.
But as you shall find, the psychoactive effects of this semi-synthetic form of THC are significantly different from those of its other more popular cousins like delta-8 and delta-9.
Why Does HHC Get You High?
All hemp-derived products, including Hexahydrocannabinol, interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a sophisticated cell-modulatory system that performs numerous essential functions. Examples of its core roles include pain mediation, maintaining hormonal balance, and controlling our circadian rhythms.
The endocannabinoid system comprises a series of receptors, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. While all cannabinoids impact the endocannabinoid system, these compounds differ in the specific receptors and neurotransmitters that they affect.
Psychotropic compounds like HHC bind to endocannabinoid receptors known as CB1 receptors, while non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD typically interact with CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are mainly expressed around the brain and central nervous system compared to CB2 receptors, which generally exist in peripheral organs like the gut and extremities.
Due to their proximity to the brain, CB1 receptors are responsible for most of the body’s mind-altering effects. And compounds that directly impact these receptors, such as HHC, are deemed to contain psychoactive abilities.
What Does HHC High Feel Like?
Most HHC users believe Hexahydrocannabinol produces a mild and pleasant cerebral high. You can tell that you’re high on HHC if you feel a sudden rush of happiness, energy, and mental relaxation.
However, it’s important to note that HHC’s effects can still differ significantly from one user to another. The overall effects will depend on age, body mass, body chemistry, doses consumed, and whether you’re a regular or occasional user.
How Potent Is HHC?
There’s no standard rule for determining the potency of Hexahydrocannabinol. That’s mainly because the compound is a mixture of different enantiomers. The enantiomers include alpha HHC (9α-HHC) and beta HHC (9β-HHC). Studies have shown that 9β-HHC binds more actively to endocannabinoid receptors than 9α-HHC.
However, we can estimate HHC’s overall potency based on the effects of other THC derivatives like delta 9 THC, delta 8 THC, and delta 10 THC. The 9β-HHC enantiomer, which binds more effectively to endocannabinoid receptors, produces the same psychotropic effects as delta 9 THC but only if consumed in large amounts.
Therefore, dose for dose, regular THC is more potent than Hexahydrocannabinol. Some researchers claim that the psychedelic effects of HHC are milder than both delta 9 THC and delta 8 THC but slightly more potent than delta 10 THC.
Lastly, as already indicated in the previous section, many other factors can determine the net potency of HHC.
Does HHC Have Any Health Benefits?
Hexahydrocannabinol, as with other hemp-derived products, provides several therapeutic benefits.
According to studies appearing on Pharmacol Exp Ther, HHC may produce potent antinociceptive activity by interacting with TRP pain receptors. That makes the compound a powerful remedy for pain.
HHC may also help combat fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, etc. You can use this synthetic compound to treat the same ailments commonly managed using THC.
What Are Top HHC Products?
Hexahydrocannabinol products are available in several product formulations. Popular ones include;
Edibles like HHC gummies, chocolates, baked goods, and beverage drinks.
Inhalable products like HHC vape cartridges, dry herbs, and wax concentrates.
HHC oral tincture oils.
Topicals like HHC ointments, salves, and bath bombs.
Smokables like HHC hemp flowers and pre-rolls.
Ingesting HHC gummies, applying HHC salves, or consuming HHC by various delivery methods will allow you to enjoy the compound’s effects. However, vaping has notably emerged as one of the most popular ways to administer cannabis extracts in the recent past. That explains the rising popularity of HHC vape products. Examples of these products include:
HHC disposables like HHC 1-Gram Disposable Maui Wowie
Where Can You Buy HHC Goods?
Numerous retail outlets sell HHC-infused products. Examples include vape shops, medical marijuana dispensaries, poison control centers, gas stations, etc.
Perhaps the focus shouldn’t be on the many retailers selling HHC but on how to vouch for their reputation.
First, insist on HHC suppliers with a reasonably long industry presence. You might also want to check for reviews to ensure the seller offers premium-quality services.
Is HHC Legal?
All hemp-derived products are federally legal, provided that they contain a maximum delta 9 concentration of 0.3%.
Now, HHC may be extracted naturally from hemp plants. To that extent, the compound is considered legal.
Also, it’s worth noting that HHC is a semi-synthetic form of THC. That means it’s generally excluded from regulations outlawing natural THC products.
Will HHC Show Up In Drug Tests?
If you’ve been using HHC and have a drug test coming up soon, you could be wondering if you’ll fail the test.
Now, most marijuana drug tests screen for delta 9 THC. It’s unusual for HHC to break down into a THC molecule during drug testing. Therefore, the compound may evade a drug test.
However, HHC may still show up in drug tests if it converts to 11-hydroxy-THC, a primary metabolite of THC. It also depends on the tests in question. For instance, urine tests may detect the presence of HHC longer than saliva and blood tests.
Hexahydrocannabinol is a semi-synthetic compound derived from THC by the hydrogenation method.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that HHC produces milder euphoria than delta-9. The compound also contains several health benefits.
What’s more, HHC products remain legal since the compound isn’t classified as a real THC. That makes the substance a welcome legal alternative to outlawed cannabinoids.
However, the fact that Hexahydrocannabinol is one of the legal THC alternatives doesn’t make HHC safe. HHC’s safety depends on the extraction method used and the doses consumed.