What is HHC?

By J Gordon Curtis

It can be hard to keep up with the many advancements in cannabis science. It feels as though there is a new cannabinoid discovered or invented every week. Now that we have opened the floodgates, an exciting opportunity awaits for continual advancement. 

One of the latest of such advancements is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC.) HHC is a very similar cannabinoid to Delta-9 THC but is not technically a form of THC like Delta 8, 9, or 10.

How is HHC Made?

You may have heard the term “hydrogenation” before with regard to margarine. This term describes the process of adding hydrogen molecules to a substance. In the case of margarine, producers add hydrogen molecules to olive oil.

The first time a scientist hydrogenated THC was in 1944. The scientist to do it was a chemist by the name of Roger Adams. He first hydrogenated Delta-9 THC from the cannabis plant. Today, most people making HHC are doing so in a state where this cannabinoid is illegal.

As such, much of the HHC on the market starts off as CBD. This CBD undergoes the process of conversion to Delta 8 THC. After this point, the THC molecules undergo hydrogenation and become HHC. 

If the description alone does not give it away, this is a lengthy process, requiring an extensive amount of lab equipment. The process for making it is not very safe either and, as these labs scale up, so do risks. 

When it comes to the hydrogenation process, that risk is in explosions. Each HHC product requires production to happen in a blast-proof environment. Each with heavy grounding to eliminate any risk for static discharge.

Will HHC Get Me High?

The short answer is: yes, a bit. HHC is not a form of THC but it is mildly intoxicating all the same. Users of HHC typically describe it as being milder than Delta 8 THC but with more effect than CBD. 

There has been little to no research on the actual effects of HHC and purported effects are all over the board. Some say it’s more energetic than Delta 8, some say less. Many reports agree that the onset is more gradual than that of forms of THC and report a clearer headspace as well.


Molecular Differences Between HHC and D9 THC

THC cannabinoids contain a number of double bonds. The representation of these on the graph comes in the form of a line underneath the line of the molecule. In order to create HHC, producers have to break apart the double bonds and add two hydrogen molecules to stabilize the cannabinoid.

The result is a molecule that is similar (yet distinct) to THC. Since HHC is not technically a form of THC, it has a bit of a stronger fighting chance against criminalization. Unlike the other analogs, this one is not a THC compound so there is less of an argument against it.

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