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Now that the legalization of hemp nationwide has combined with a dozen and a half states legalizing marijuana, consumers know more about cannabis than they ever have in the past.

No matter how you feel about cannabis more broadly, having more information about any compound on the current market is no doubt a positive thing indeed.

We have learned a great deal about CBD and THC, and have even expanded our knowledge to other lesser-known cannabinoids like THCV and CBG/CBN. 

The story does not end there, of course.

HHC is the newest, perhaps most mysterious cannabinoid to make it to some dispensary shelves, and its status as a primarily hemp-based compound means that virtually any American adult can get their hands on it – assuming they ever find it! 

Allow us to explain: HHC is a bit of an enigma. It is primarily found in hemp extracts as a trace cannabinoid, meaning that it is only found in hemp in very tiny quantities, necessitating intervention by experts to make it artificially in a lab setting.

Typically, it is taken via a vape cartridge.

The elements of HHC paint a similar picture to Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol – a substance whose name you may not recognize until you realize what the shortened version of the name is: THC. 

If you want to know why so many Americans are curious about HHC, it’s because it purports to have the same effects as THC, but perhaps does not show up on a drug test, and also comes with benefits of its town.

More on this later. For now, we will give you a rundown of the HHC basics. Read on for more information. 

Hexahydrocannabinol: The HHC Meaning

Understanding what HHC is, helps to get a sense of how it is made and what the science behind the compound truly is.

Made in a laboratory in the 1940s by a chemist named Roger Adams, through a process called hydrogenation. What is this, you ask? Well, it is the same process that differentiates the very similar effect that happens when vegetable oil is turned into margarine.

To keep it simple, it is merely what happens to THC when hydrogen molecules are added to it, turning it into HHC. 

THC and HHC actually share a virtually identical molecular structure, differing only in the hydrogen molecule factor, as well as the inclusion of an ester atom in HHC that sets it apart from THC.

What does this all mean? Well, for one, it means HHC has a far longer shelf life than THC does, as it boasts a particularly strong resistance to heat, making it a fairly stable compound – much in the same way hydrogenated vegetable oils are going to keep for quite a while versus regular vegetable oils. 

Thus, HHC is a bit of a secret untold alternative to THC.

It is not as potent or “obvious” in its effects as THC is, but according to anecdotal reports, it is not immensely far off – and far more active than Delta-8 THC, which has about half the potency and activity of regular Delta-9 THC. 

These days, HHC is typically made from hemp, as this is the form we can freely use here in America, first by extracting CBD from the hemp plant and then processing it through a proprietary process that so far remains a bit of a mystery. 

HHC: How Potent? 

There is not a clear answer on just how potent HHC is when ingested or vaped.

There are not a ton of studies on it just yet, and it is a complicated compound in the sense that any manufactured HHC is going to be at the mercy of its own molecular structure, as some elements of HHC bind well to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, and other elements hardly bind at all.

This creates a scenario where HHC can actually be less potent than Delta-8 THC, a cannabinoid known to be only about 50% the strength of psychoactive, marijuana-sourced THC.

This push and pull regarding active and inactive HHC molecules presents a challenge for enterprises who want to make HHC because every batch will produce a different ratio of these HHC molecules.

Attempting to separate the active molecules from the inactive ones is a cumbersome, tedious, complex, difficult, and above all, a highly cost-ineffective process.

Any manufacturer will put forth their best effort to keep the ratio healthy so that consumers get bang for their buck, but this process is not always guaranteed for success.

In all likelihood, this will be a trial and error situation for HHC as manufacturers refine and finesse their technological strategies to develop a product that gives customers the effect they are looking for. 

Speaking of effect, what is the bottom line for HHC? What can consumers expect when taking a high-quality HHC product?

Well, for starters, HHC is more of an anti-stress, relaxant type cannabinoid than a stimulant; customers tend to seek it for the same reasons they seek Delta-8 THC. 

You can expect a painkilling effect with HHC, and one study in particular found a significant painkilling effect when experimented on with rats. In addition to managing chronic pain, HHC may also promote restful sleep, perform as an anti-inflammatory, calm the digestive system, and alleviate feelings of anxiety. 

Indeed, anecdotal reports from around the internet demonstrate a consistent level of feedback for pain alleviation and eliminating brain fog.

There are also reports that HHC could function as an anti-anxiety compound, but as with anything THC-related, anxiety can go one way or another. 

HHC and Safety

Is HHC safe? Will it show up on a drug test? Let’s get into these important questions. 

First of all, we must reiterate the lack of viable research in to HHC. This means that much of the United States is flying blind with this compound, and that is not always a comfortable spot to be in for many consumers.

There is no standard dose and not a wealth of consumer feedback for HHC just yet. Here at PureKana, we are just beginning to learn about it ourselves, and while we like what we see and hear, we are awaiting more information too. 

Most websites will have a lab report (or a Certificate of Analysis), and that should assist you in terms of fleshing out just what the cost-benefit is of taking such a new and mysterious cannabinoid.

So far, though, retailers of HHC are few and far between. 

Will HHC show up on a drug test? So far, that is a marketing strategy employed by the cluster of folks who are selling HHC – claiming that it will not show up on any drug screening.

After all, Delta-8 and Delta-10 will cause a failed drug test screen; is HHC any different? Some evidence points to HHC not metabolizing into THC metabolites that would show up on screening.

But this evidence is not worth leaning on, and worth waiting to know for sure. 

HHC’s Legality

Being such a close cousin to THC, and having mild psychoactive qualities if the dosing and molecular ratio are right, means that there will be some legal questions surrounding HHC.

On the one hand, it is a hemp-derived product, meaning there is no real issue in terms of extracting it from the hemp plant the same way CBD is extracted.

Indeed, the Leafly article mentions a cannabis business owner who is convinced that HHC is just as inert and useful as CBD and should not be presented with any legal challenges.

Established business owners have skin in this game, but legal experts are less convinced.

Some reference the “analogue act,” a law in the United States that maintains that any drug with similar effects to a schedule-1 drug, as in, an analogous compound, is subject to similar restrictions.

If HHC is as close to THC as the implications hint at , it would be just like synthetic marijuana (remember “Spice?”), rendering it federally illegal. The legal waters are murky for HHC, so watch this space – we may know sooner rather than later. 

Sources:

What is HHC? Hydrogenated Cannabinoids & Apocalypse-Ready THC

What Is HHC?

HHC: Frequently Asked Questions

Boston Hemp Explains HHC

HHC: A cannabinoid with potent antinociceptive activity

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