July 25, 2022 7 min read

As Delta-8, Delta-10, and THC-O continue to fight for the spotlight at the forefront of the hemp market, HHC remains somewhat of an enigma. It's not that HHC is inherently less useful or interesting–quite the opposite, in fact. Some reports suggest that it may have a more promising legal atmosphere and could even evade common drug test methods, giving it several potential advantages in comparison to similar hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Still, HHC is poorly understood, mostly because it has a totally unique configuration and is made using very different manufacturing techniques, making it a bit more difficult for consumers to grasp what it is, how it's used, and what effects it may have on the body.

But HHC won't remain in the dark for long. We'll break it down–what is HHC? How does it compare to Delta-8? Is it legal? And most importantly, is it safe?

Here's what you need to know:

Table of Contents
HHC Basics
HHC vs Delta-8
Will HHC Get Me High?
Benefits of HHC vs Delta-8 and Delta-9
How Long Does an HHC High Last?
How is HHC Used?
Where to Buy HHC
HHC Frequently Asked Questions

Key Takeaways

  • HHC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid with psychoactive effects similar to THC.
  • It’s thought to have a potency that falls somewhere between Delta-8 and Delta-9.
  • Many reports suggest that it may have increased therapeutic benefits for promoting relaxation.
  • HHC is commonly found in vape form, but it’s popularity (and accessibility) is expected to grow as we learn more about it.
  • Because HHC is federally legal, it’s easy to find and buy online.

A model of the HHC molecule, which is similar to many THC molecules derived from hemp

First, What is HHC?

HHC, chemically known as “11-Hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol” or just “hexahydrocannabinol” is a hydrogenated THC analog that was discovered in the 1940’s by renown cannabis researcher Roger Adams–the same American chemist who isolated CBD.

Although it takes a form similar to THC, it also includes a hydrogen atom, so it’s not technically classified as a THC molecule. It is, however, a naturally occurring cannabinoid, although it’s usually found only in natural cannabis material in trace amounts.

Luckily, it can be synthesized from other cannabinoids and can even be made from legal hemp material, meaning it can be produced in a manner that makes it legal by federal guidelines. During this process, it’s made using a technique called “hydrogenation,” which sets it apart from the isomerization techniques used to make Delta-8, Delta-10, and other hemp-derived THC products.

Read "HHC vs THC" to learn more. 

Is HHC similar to Delta-8 and Delta-9?

Yes, HHC is chemically similar to both Delta-8 and Delta-9, though it has a few key differences that give it it’s own unique therapeutic profile.

Chemically, HHC differs from THC molecules because it lacks double bonds. During the hydrogenation process, it’s double bonds are broken down and replaced with hydrogen molecules. Although understanding these hydrogen bonds can be pretty complex, the most important thing to know is that HHC may have a slightly different affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 receptors than either Delta-8 or Delta-9.

In general, HHC is thought to be about 70-80% as strong as Delta-9, meaning it’s a bit stronger than Delta-8-THC.

A bottle of hemp oil containing HHC and other psychoactive cannabinoids, like Delta-8

Will HHC get me high?

Yep! We mentioned that HHC was a bit less potent than Delta-9 and more potent than Delta-9, but it does have significant psychoactive effects worth noting. Although it interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in a manner that’s similar to most THC molecules, it has it’s own range of therapeutic effects that are usually described as being more relaxing and sedating than Delta-8, with a bit less potential to induce anxiety or paranoia than Delta-9.

Actually, when it’s all said and done, HHC may have several benefits compared to more traditional THC dosing methods. Let’s take a look:

Benefits of HHC vs Delta-8 and Delta-9

The way that HHC is made poses several significant advantages compared to traditional THC products, and even to the many hemp-derived THC products that are currently populating the cannabis market.

First, HHC is not technically a THC products, so it’s not restricted like Delta-9 is on the federal level. It’s also not always subject to the umbrella of laws created by states to try to inhibit the sale of Delta-8 made from hemp. In other words, HHC may be legal on a more stable basis, and in more areas, including many where hemp-derived THC may be prohibited.

It’s molecular structure also makes it more shelf-stable than traditional THC products, so many experts believe it may have increased potential for medical applications. Some anecdotal reports suggest that it doesn’t stimulate the appetite in the same manner as THC, so it may be able to provide therapeutic benefits without increased hunger.

To recap, some of the benefits to HHC over Delta-8, Delta-9, and other hemp-derived THC products may include:

  • Balanced psychoactive effects/potency
  • Increased potential for relaxation or sedative effects
  • Longer shelf life (5+ years)
  • Increased potential for medicinal applications (pending future research)
  • Less potential to incite paranoia or anxiety
  • More stable legal atmosphere

How Long Does an HHC High Last?

Before you can determine if the benefits of HHC really weigh out, you’re probably wondering–how long will the effects of HHC last?

In general, the time frame for HHC’s effects is similar to that of most THC products. The effects of HHC may last between two and three hours. The effects may be more dependent on the dosing style used, and inhalation methods methods may have shorter-lived effects than edibles.

A hemp leaf, the natural source of HHC oil

Is HHC Safe?

For now, research regarding the safety of HHC, especially with long-term use, is limited. The same is true for most hemp-derived cannabinoids, which are still largely unregulated. Of course, many experts believe that the risk and benefit profile of HHC is similar to that of traditional THC, meaning it may be safe when used responsibly and in moderation.

As with all hemp-derived cannabinoid products, the most significant risks come from purchasing low-quality, contaminated products. Because regulations are inconsistent from state to state, it’s crucial for consumers to do their due diligence when shopping for HHC and other hemp products.

Look for a company that uses clean, high-quality hemp material and safe manufacturing procedures. A trustworthy hemp manufacturer will always provide third-party lab test reports for their products, and you can use those tests to verify the absence of pesticides, mold, and other contaminants, or to verify the potency as presented on the product label.

Is HHC Legal?

Just like Delta-8, HHC exists in a legal gray area, but most accounts credit it with a federal legal status under the hemp umbrella. In other words, it exists as a THC analog that contains less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC, meaning it falls under the definitions used to legalize hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The text defines hemp as as “Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers…with no more than a 0.3 percent concentration of THC.”

Of course, HHC is still subject to state laws and may be illegal on a state level in some areas. Still, the legal environment is not usually as harsh for HHC products because they aren’t technically THC products are therefore are unaffected by laws that focus on THC.

Read "Will HHC Show Up On a Drug Test?" to learn more. 

How is HHC Used?

With HHC, like with all hemp-derivatives, poses unlimited potential for different dosing forms, but it’s still very new to market. For now, the most common way that you’ll find HHC is in vape form, but there are some other forms available as well. Here are the most common ways that HHC is used:

HHC Vapes

HHC vaporizers are an instant delivery method, which means the effects should begin to creep on only minutes after each dose. You should feel the full effects of your dose after approximately 20 minutes. This also offers the benefits of stackable doses, meaning you can slowly stack on small doses until you reach your desired level of lift.

HHC Edibles and Tinctures

HHC edibles are less common, but may become a more popular dosing method in the future because of their extended shelf life.

Jus like all hemp edibles, some (like cookies and other infused foods) are designed to be processed by digestion, while others are designed to dissolve slowly in the mouth for sublingual absorption. Digested edibles may take over an hour to kick in, while sublingual edibles (including tinctures) could take effect in around 30 minutes.

Where to Buy HHC

Thanks to its natural hemp source, HHC is federally legal and legal in many U.S. states, which means it's far more accessible than traditional cannabis products. It's important that you source from trustworthy hemp manufacturers that provide third-party lab tests for every batch. 

For now, HHC may be more difficult to find than THC-O, Delta-8, or other hemp derivatives. If you’re looking for legal hemp-derived THC you can order online that meets the most stringent quality standards, check out our  Elev8 Collection.

Read more:

Can HHC Make You Fail a Drug Test?

Frequently Asked Questions

How strong is HHC?

HHC is thought to be around 75% as potent as Delta-9-THC, but a bit more potent than Delta-8. It’s effects are different than both, providing a deep euphoria that’s supposedly more relaxing and sedating than the other two cannabinoids. 

Is Delta-8 stronger than HHC?

No, Delta-8 is a bit less potent than HHC, making it a good starting point for new THC consumers. In general, the difference is minimal and the actual effects you will experience from either cannabinoid are dose-dependent. 

Is HHC better?

HHC last longer on the shelf and may have more stable legal parameters than THC products. There is more to learn, but there is currently no evidence to suggest that HHC is any less safe than traditional THC. 

Is HHC illegal?

HHC-O is fully federally legal and is legal in most states, including some of the states that have banned hemp-derived THC. Because HHC is not technically a THC product, it’s not often subject to the same legal restrictions. For now, HHC is thought to be legal in at least 40 states. 

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