These days, most people are familiar with the cannabinoids CBD and THC. They’re at the center of the newfound popularity of hemp-derived products designed for everyday wellness. As the two most abundant cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana, it makes sense that most of the market is devoted to exploring the potential of these compounds. But, they’re not the only ones seeing their fair share of interest. Cannabinoids like Delta 8 THC, rising swiftly in popularity, find themselves mired in a host of legal and regulatory issues.
Enter HHC. Blending the worlds of CBD and THC, HHC is poised to control the market and become the most innovative cannabinoid seen on store shelves. Read on to discover what makes this one-of-a-kind compound so impressive, and how you can enjoy it today.
HHC stands for hexahydrocannabinol, and was first developed in 1944 by a chemist named Roger Adams – the same chemist who first isolated CBD. He was key in synthesizing new cannabinoids as well as identifying the relationship between CBD and THC, among other incredible achievements. Initially, Adams created HHC by adding hydrogen molecules to THC. In scientific terms this process is better known as hydrogenation. These days, low-THC hemp with isolate CBD make up the process.
By adding this hydrogen molecule, HHC no longer becomes part of the THC group of cannabinoids. Instead, HHC acts more uniquely and distinctively from both CBD and THC. In fact, when manufactured, HHC consists of two slightly distinct HHC compounds: 9R HHC and 9S HHC. The compound 9R binds better to receptors in the body via the endocannabinoid system, while 9S structurally binds better to receptors in the brain. Combined, HHC becomes a compound that explores a unique middle ground between the brain and body. Therefore, HHC combines potential benefits of other cannabinoids into one unique package.
As mentioned previously, HHC combines two compounds – 9R HHC and 9S HHC – which interact with a crucial system in our body. This system is complex and designed to regulate pretty much every function our bodies perform. This regulating process, better known as homeostasis, ensures proper balance across all aspects of our health, including our immune system, energy levels, mood, sleep cycle, injury and repair, metabolism, and more. The compound 9R binds primarily to the endocannabinoid system.
To support homeostasis, our body naturally produces cannabinoids (the namesake endocannabinoids) that interact with various receptors in our body and brain. However, cannabinoids like CBD and THC, naturally found in plants of the Cannabis genus, also interact with these same receptors in distinct ways. Since 9R HHC binds to receptors in the body in a manner similar to those other cannabinoids, assumptively, it provides similar effects and benefits to the body as CBD or THC. Meanwhile, the compound 9S bonds differently and not in the same manner. HHC, then, unable to bind all of its molecules to the endocannabinoid system, ends up being less intense than either of those cannabinoids, even with its similar, familiar effects.
However, HHC is exceedingly new. Unlike THC or CBD with research behind them, the label for HHC is more mysterious due to a lack of research to definitively prove both its mechanism of action and the effects it has on the body. Since HHC is composed of 9R and 9S variants, laboratories try to maximize 9R while minimizing 9S to extract and refine HHC. This variation implies that HHC’s general “potency” is lower than those other cannabinoids, but there still remains room for further experimentation and research.
When it comes to understanding the legality of HHC, this complex topic also encompasses the same with hemp and CBD. The 2018 Farm Bill provides factual information about the legality of HHC, CBD and THC.
The 2018 Farm Bill decisively removed hemp from the list of controlled substances. The criteria for that removal included hemp meeting a few key conditions, the most important being the following: hemp could not contain more than 0.3% Delta-9-THC on a dry-weight basis. This applied to hemp as plant matter, per the wording of the law, and also applied to products making use of hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids.
Because of this wording – the specificity regarding Delta-9 THC – proponents of HHC, Delta-8, and other hemp-derived cannabinoids argue that as long as their products minimize the total Delta-9-THC concentration, their products fall under legal parameters by federal standards. However, the DEA and some states believe that cannabinoids like Delta 8 that produce a euphoric “high” similar to Delta-9 should be fully illegal. In fact, many states in their own programs include THC-isomers as exceptions to the legalization of hemp. The legal back-and-forth continues, likely for some time, leaving HHC in a kind of limbo.
If there is one bright spot for HHC, then it’s this one: HHC isn’t a THC cannabinoid at all – it is a hexahydrocannabinol, not a tetrahydrocannabinol. If the legislation prohibits THC, then as it stands HHC should be in the clear, right?
Unfortunately, because of its potential to interact with our endocannabinoid system in ways similar to THC, HHC is still likely to remain in a grey area for a while as far as legalization goes. It also depends on how that HHC was made – if derived from THC, then it may end up on the wrong side of law. Because HHC is just so new, not many regions have taken any action for or against it. Keep an eye on your local laws and ordinances so you can be informed if anything changes.
Although HHC is not a THC cannabinoid, it’s not quite the same CBD either. Cannabidiol, a fully natural molecule, is found abundantly in the hemp plant. HHC is generally produced under stringent laboratory conditions using low-THC CBD as the main source material. Although a tricky process, the result creates a one-of-a-kind cannabinoid. Generally, HHC and CBD have different effects based on how each cannabinoid interacts with our endocannabinoid system.
As mentioned above, HHC comes in the form of two separate compound, 9R and 9S. As 9S doesn’t quite bond with receptors in the body effectively, HHC provides less intensity, in most cases, when it has a small ratio of 9R to 9S. CBD, on the other hand, tends to bond fairly effectively to receptors, especially ones that assist with processes like inflammation or maintaining energy levels.
HHC’s effects may seem similar at times to THC, but research lags to definitely say what it can do. CBD, on the other hand, has research going back quite a few years, at least. CBD, of course, is non-intoxicating and cannot get you “high”, while HHC is psychoactive. HHC is generally considered to be of a lower intensity than something like Delta 8, which itself is considered less intense than Delta 9.
Both HHC and CBD can be enjoyed in similar products, however. Whether in tincture form, gummies, capsules, topicals and more, you can likely find products containing HHC just as you would for CBD.
When HHC was initially created, it was formed through the process of hydrogenation of THC – essentially hydrogen molecules added to the chemical structure of THC transform it into HHC. In fact, hydrogenation is the same process used to make margarine (the well-known butter substitute), though the process still requires expert lab training, specialized equipment, and strict lab conditions. It most definitely cannot be done at home!
Instead, specialized labs make HHC. There are currently only a few, but the number grows as HHC rises in popularity. As mentioned before, the main issue for many labs becomes finding an optimal ratio of 9R HHC (the one that readily binds to receptors in our bodies) to 9S HHC (the one that doesn’t bond well at all). Current estimates suggest 50:50. Hopefully, with improved manufacturing and testing technology this number improves to provide a purer and more active HHC experience. One of the unique consequences of note is that thanks to HHC’s extra hydrogen molecules made through hydrogenation, it has potentially a more stable chemical structure. This may potentially improve its shelf life with less degradation over time.
Moreover, for HHC to meet federal legal standards, it must be derived from low-THC hemp and CBD -- a critical factor for testing by consumers as well as manufacturers.
The safety of HHC is somewhat relative: on its own, HHC seems to be capable of effects similar to THC, albeit with a reduced ability to bind to endocannabinoid receptors. However, because HHC brings potential for psychoactive effects, never use HHC while operating heavy machinery or when there is significant risk of injury.
With that understanding, notably, little information exists whether HHC contains any other undesired or negative effects not already associated with THC. Any negative effects are yet to be studied, but as legal HHC is derived from low-THC hemp, its safety is more reliant on the trustworthiness of the hemp used in making it as well as the standards of lab manufacturing it.
To ensure you receive a high-quality product, purchase HHC products accompanied by a freely available, third-party lab report. Many of the same precautions you take when buying CBD or Delta 8 apply here. Buy only from reputable vendors who offer as much transparency as possible about the source of their HHC and product quality.
Be particularly aware of the ratio of 9R HHC to 9S HHC. A good lab report shows you the concentration of both compounds. That way, you get a better idea of the cannabinoid profile of that product. Ideally, try to get as close as possible to a 50/50 (or better) mix. Lastly, purchase from brands that make their HHC products in the USA and in GMP-certified labs. This ensures your peace of mind about your purchase of the highest-quality products.
We’ve ascertained that HHC is basically a market newcomer. Nonetheless, a plethora of options exist for sampling this unique cannabinoid. Many of the same products you already enjoy for cannabinoids like CBD come with HHC. Below are some of the most popular examples:
If you’re looking to try HHC, then you’ve come to the right site! At Sun State Hemp we have a wide array of hemp-derived HHC products for you to enjoy. All of our HHC gummies are GMP-certified. All of our HHC products are made right here in the USA to the most stringent laboratory standards. We include lab reports for free on our website which you can quickly and easily search through, as well as FAQs and a dedicated customer service team that you can call if you have any questions or concerns. We’re dedicated to pushing the boundaries of hemp and providing only the best quality products to our customers. Discover your new favorite cannabinoids here at Sun State Hemp today!