What is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) and Where Does it Come From?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a cannabinoid found naturally in cannabis plants. Learn more about what it is & where it comes from here.

What is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) and Where Does it Come From?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a cannabinoid, a type of compound found naturally in cannabis plants. Scientists have identified more than 100 cannabinoids, with the two most well-known being Delta-9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the component of marijuana that produces a high. CBD is first extracted from raw hemp, then distilled and isolated in powder form.

To obtain a useful amount of HHC, a complex process is used to saturate THC with hydrogen atoms in the presence of high pressure and a catalyst such as nickel or palladium. HHC is also known as hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol or simply hexahydrocannabinol. It is a semi-synthetic hydrogenated compound first created in 1944 by 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.

Experts believe that HHC is 80% more potent than delta-9-THC, so those with a low tolerance to THC should use it cautiously. HHC-O is superior to the traditional and illegal Delta 9-THC because it has all the benefits and effects of Delta 9-THC, but is fully federally legal in 41 states in the United States. In addition to HHC, Colorado Chromatography also produces CBG, CBN and other specialty compounds at its facilities outside Denver. A preliminary study conducted with animal test subjects showed that HHC is metabolized to 8-alpha-hydroxy-HHC and 8beta-hydroxy-HHC, both similar to THC-COOH.

Both HHC and Delta 9-THC produce euphoric psychoactive effects on consumers and carry a wide variety of medical and recreational benefits. If the converted HHC is considered to be obtained synthetically at the federal level now or in the future, the use, possession, sale, distribution and production of HHC products could be illegal. High-power active HHC is known as HHC 9R, while low-power inactive HHC is known as HHC 9S. CBD can be used for numerous health reasons, but it will never provide the consumer with the psychoactive effects that HHC-O and Delta 9 would provide.

HHC-O provides most, if not all, of the benefits of CBD, but it also provides a “euphoric feeling” that can be very beneficial to many users. Manufacturers of HHC manufacture it in a laboratory using a chemical process (hydrogenation) that extracts more HHC than is normally found in hemp. If judges determine that HHC is natural, as long as the final product is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% of THC delta 9, it is legal at the federal level. The addition of hydrogen makes HHC more stable than THC with greater resistance to heat and UV rays. Producers take THC, chemically saturate it with hydrogen atoms, expose it to a nickel or zinc catalyst and convert it to HHC.

All HHC (hexahydrocannabinol) products are made with semi-synthetic HHC chemically hydrogenated from THC. There is limited research on how HHC could benefit you, although early preclinical studies in animal test subjects suggest that it has analgesic and anti-cancer properties.