The 2018 federal legalization of hemp opened a new world of options for plant enthusiasts and cannabinoid fans. While CBD instantly skyrocketed to recognition, there are hundreds of cannabinoids tucked in the hemp plant, waiting for their moment to glow. Delta-8 THC, delta-10, and THCO-A have emerged this year as popular hemp derivatives, but there’s a new cannabinoid ready for the spotlight: hexahydro cannabinol HHC for short, is a bit of a mouthful, but it opens the door to an entirely new class of chemical compounds, free from state and federal interference.
HHC was first discovered in the 1940s. There are conflicting reports about exactly when, between 1944 and 1947, but it was the mid-1940’s. HHC can be made via a fully synthetic way, but as it pertains to the hemp industry, what’s occurring is the hydrogenation of delta-8 THC.


Does HHC get you high?

Although HHC isn’t technically a THC substance, it does produce similar effects if you use an adequate amount of it. When it’s produced in the lab, an HHC batch is a mix of active and inactive HHC molecules. The active HHC binds well with your body’s cannabinoid receptors; the others don’t.

Manufacturers haven’t yet figured out a cost-effective way to separate high-potency HHC from its low-potency twin, so commercial HHC which is a mix of the two forms may be something of a crapshoot for the buyer. But HHC does have noticeable effects. Reports from users generally describe the HHC high as being somewhere between delta 8 and delta 9 THC.

That said, consumers report the same set of side effects familiar to delta 9 THC like dry mouth, dry and red eyes, hunger, and insomnia.

Will HHC show up in a drug test?

It appears that HHC may not break down in the body in the same way as THC. Unlike the delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10 forms of THC, there is some evidence that HHC doesn’t metabolize into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is the breakdown substance many drug panels test for.

But that hasn’t been studied and isn’t certain. So far, no one knows for sure that HHC won’t leave evidence of use in your blood, urine, or hair. If your employer tests for drug use, we suggest you do not risk your job by using HHC.

Does HHC have medical benefits?

HHC hasn’t been widely studied, unlike more abundant cannabinoids like delta 9 delta-8, THC or CBD, however, there has been some promising research. A 2011 study showed that some synthetic analogs of hexahydro cannabinol (HHC) “strongly inhibited breast cancer cell-induced angiogenesis and tumor growth.” Japanese researchers published a paper in 2007 describing HHC’s impressive pain-blocking capability in mice. But it is probably too early to say whether HHC has great promise as a therapeutic drug.

Is HHC legal?

The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized the hemp plant and all its derivatives, unless the plant or anything made from it contains delta 9 THC at a concentration higher than 0.3 percent. HHC technically isn’t THC at all, so it should avoid federal analysis.

Even though HHC is found naturally in the cannabis plant, that’s not where commercial HHC comes from. It’s a lab-produced product made by hydrogenating hemp-derived cannabinoids under pressure with a catalyst like palladium. Scientists at the National Cannabis Industry Association call the result a “semi-synthetic” cannabis compound.