What is HHC and Is it Derived from Hemp?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derived from hemp found naturally in cannabis plants. Learn more about this compound and its potential benefits.

What is HHC and Is it Derived from Hemp?

HHC, scientifically known as hexahydrocannabinol, is a hydrogenated form of THC found naturally in a variety of cannabis and hemp plants. It has approximately 70-80% of the concentration of THC, making it more potent than other hemp-derived cannabinoids such as Delta-8 and Delta-10. CBD is extracted from raw hemp, distilled and isolated in powder form. From there, the process to create HHC begins. Hexahydrocannabinol, or “HHC”, is a cannabinoid, which are compounds found naturally in cannabis plants.

Scientists have discovered more than 100 cannabinoids. HHC is a semi-synthetic hydrogenated compound first created in 1944 by the American chemist Roger Adams when he added hydrogen molecules to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Hydrogenation modifies the structure of THC delta 9 by replacing a double bond with two hydrogen atoms. Today, no one knows for sure that HHC will leave no evidence of its use in blood, urine, or hair. Kyle Ray, from Colorado Chromatography, noted that the company only manufactures its HHC in an “explosion-proof space”.

Until HHC is subject to a state-regulated system, consumers must weigh the risks and benefits of these compounds on their own. Brown says he doesn't necessarily believe that HHC presents a new market opportunity for companies, but rather an extension of the market. Among the wave of cannabinoids derived from hemp that is sweeping the country, Delta 8 THC, Delta-O THC and delta-10, among them, few have eluded public understanding more than HHC. High-power active HHC is known as HHC 9R, while low-power inactive HHC is known as HHC 9S. 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. Because cannabinoids derived from hemp (including HHC) are not subject to cannabis regulations in statutory adult states, manufacturers and retailers of HHC products are not required to test their products for potency and purity. In other words, HHC may have similar effects to THC on the body and mind, but it is less potent than THC delta-8.Since the Agricultural Act legalizes products containing other cannabinoids from hemp as long as they do not exceed the 0.3% THC threshold, producers of HHC products insist that everything is correct.

Brown says he began receiving an incredible number of inquiries about HHC tests around October last year, prompting the laboratory to begin researching and developing a suitable analysis method for the cannabinoid. Because HHC is synthetic, Russo says that people may even experience additional unwanted side effects. James Stephens, vice president of innovation at Creo, a biotechnology company specializing in cannabinoids, has seen similar arguments about the fact that HHC is not metabolized to 11-hydroxyTHC. Like delta-8, delta-10 THC and other related cannabinoids, there are many questions about what HHC is, its legal status, where it comes from, and more. It could be argued that HHC is found naturally in hemp and cannabis plants but its presence only occurs in small quantities. Overall, apart from the benefits highlighted in the limited studies conducted so far, there is no evidence to support other benefits that manufacturers believe HHC has.