What is HHC (hexahydro cannabinol)?
Hexahydrocannabinol HHC, is a cannabinoid found in small concentrations in hemp seeds and pollen. But the hexahydro cannabinol that is making headlines around the world does not come from either of these two sources. Instead, it is produced in the laboratory, using natural cannabinoids or cannabis extract.
Therefore, HHC is often described as a semi-synthetic cannabinoid; Although not manufactured using only synthetic agents (such as K2 or Spice), HHC sold in certain parts of the US and other locations around the world are the result of some degree of human processing and are not naturally found in plants. cannabis.
While the HHC has only recently attracted media attention, it is actually anything but recent discovery. HHC was first synthesized in the US in 1944 by Roger Adams, who created the compound by adding hydrogen molecules to delta-9-THC, in a process known as hydrogenation. Since then, the HHC hasn’t received much attention; at least until recently, some manufacturers started selling it as an alternative to THC. Learn more
How is HHC produced?
There is a lot of misinformation about how HHC is produced and many manufacturers are very concerned about revealing their processing methods for producing this cannabinoid. The basic principle that all manufacturers follow to create HHC however is the aforementioned hydrogenation.
The process consists of mixing cannabinoid-rich cannabis extract and other compounds with hydrogen in a pressurized container. The hydrogen then naturally breaks the carbon-carbon double bond of the cannabinoids, creating a rich, dark golden oil called HCO (hydrogenated cannabis oil).
To speed up the hydrogenation process, manufacturers typically use catalysts to speed up the reaction between hydrogen gas and natural cannabinoids. The catalysts commonly used for this purpose are nickel, platinum, palladium, and iridium.
Depending on whether the cannabis extract used at the start of the process is decarboxylated or not, HCO producers end up with a substance rich in hexahydro cannabinol ic acid (HHCA), or HHC. This oil can then be further refined according to the manufacturer’s criteria.
It is also important to note that HCO contains two types of HHC: 9R HHC, which naturally binds to cannabinoid receptors, and 9S HHC, which due to its unique chemical structure does not have much affinity for CB1 or CB2 receptors. The proportional amount of 9R or 9S HHC in commercial products, such as gummy candies or vaporizer cartridges, therefore has a large impact on the potency and effects of a given product. You can find more information on potency below.
How similar are HHC and THC?
In terms of chemical structure, THC and HHC are very similar. The only notable difference between the two is that HHC has hydrogenated carbon atoms, an additional carbon bond, and an ester atom.
According to Boston Hemp Inc , a Massachusetts retailer selling CBD, delta-8-THC, and HHC products, these small molecular differences make HHC a much more stable compound than THC. As a result, he says HHC-based products may be less susceptible to degradation with light and heat, which would extend their durability.
The structural similarity HHC has to THC is likely what allows this compound to bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors (remember cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors work similarly to keys and locks), and this could also be why it generates effects similar to those of THC.
What are the supposed effects of HHC?
HHC is such a new item on the market that much of the information available on its potential effects is anecdotal. You should therefore take what you read about HHC with a huge pinch of salt.
Manufacturers and retailers claim that HHC has a very high affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors and that by binding to these receptors the compound induces many of the same effects as THC, including:
How powerful is HHC?
How HHC works in the body is not entirely clear. While it is likely to affect cannabinoid receptors, there is still a lot we don’t know about the potency of this cannabinoid, how to dose it correctly, whether or not it is safe compared to other cannabis compounds, and more. Furthermore, different sources provide contradictory information regarding the properties and potency of HHC.
Some sources, for example, claim that HHC has roughly 70-80% of the potency of delta-9-THC, which would make it roughly 20-30% more potent than delta-8 or delta-10. Others claim that HHC is less potent than delta-8 and that high doses are needed for HHC to induce similar results to other types of THC.
As mentioned earlier, a potential reason for these contradictions is that distinct HHC products contain different ratios of 9R and 9S HHC, of which the former binds well to cannabinoid receptors, while the latter does not. Therefore, products with concentrations higher than 9R HHC will likely be perceived as more potent than those with higher concentrations of 9S HHC.
Is HHC legal?
Manufacturers often describe HHC as a legal alternative to THC, as it can be made from delta-8-THC, which is typically found in high concentrations in hemp flowers. HHC dealers and producers also claim that HHC is legal because it is naturally present in cannabis pollen and hemp seeds, and therefore can be considered a natural extract derived from hemp.
The reality, however, is much more complicated. The way we legislate around cannabis changes a lot in different parts of the world and involves a lot of clauses and quibbles. In the US, for example, some might argue that HHC is an analog of THC and therefore is subject to the Federal Analogue Act. If this were the case, HHC, like THC, would be a Class 1 substance. under US federal laws.
Outside the US, the laws governing HHC and other alternative cannabinoids may vary. In the EU, for example, there is no comprehensive legislation to establish EU-wide control of cannabis, and many European countries make exceptions for cannabis strains that contain low concentrations of THC (such as hemp).