What is HHC and How Does it Relate to Hemp?

Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, is a cannabinoid, which are compounds found naturally in cannabis plants. Scientists have discovered more than 100 cannabinoids, with the most well-known being Delta-9, THC and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the ingredient in marijuana that produces the psychoactive effects. The process of obtaining HHC begins with extracting CBD from raw hemp, which is then distilled and isolated into a powder form.

After this, things become more complex as there are several isomers of this hydrogenated form of THC. Despite this, the popularity of HHC is on the rise and many people are using it on a daily basis. HHC has approximately 70 to 80% of the concentration of THC, making it more potent than other hemp-derived cannabinoids such as Delta-8 and Delta-10. According to Bearly Legal's Burns, part of the appeal of HHC may be due to evidence suggesting it can evade drug testing. The form of HHC found is called cannabiripsol (6aR, 9S, 10S, 10aR) and 9,10-dihydroxyhexahydrocannabinol.

As these products contain only HHC-O made with 100% hemp extract, companies can manufacture, distribute and sell them legally to consumers in the United States. HHC was first created in 1944 by American chemist Roger Adams when he added hydrogen molecules to Delta-9 THC. Less common but still available are disposable HHC vaporizers, tinctures for oral consumption and rubbing concentrates. As a result, only a few companies offer retail HHC and have done so for a long time.

Bearly Legal does include third-party test results with its KCA Laboratories HHC products. At least part of HHC is metabolized to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is the major metabolite of THC that screening tests are designed to detect. Although HHC is found naturally in the cannabis plant, commercial HHC is obtained by hydrogenating cannabinoids derived from hemp under pressure with a catalyst such as palladium. If HHC remains legally viable and especially if it is less expensive to manufacture high-potency HHC, this promising cannabinoid will be more accessible in the diverse cannabis market. While there are no federal regulations that set the minimum age required to purchase HHC-O, there are state regulations that require consumers to be 18 or older to purchase. The main concern regarding HHC is the use of aggressive chemicals during the manufacturing process and the formation of unwanted chemical by-products that can reach the final product.

James Stephens, a cannabinoid scientist at Creo, believes that HHC is subject to the Federal Analogical Act which states that any substance analogous to a Schedule I drug - in this case conventional THC - would qualify in and of itself as a Schedule I drug.

Micaela de Gallardo
Micaela de Gallardo

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