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What Is HHC? The Science Behind This Fascinating Cannabinoid - Erth Wellness

What Is HHC? The Science Behind This Fascinating Cannabinoid


If you’re new to the world of hemp-derived cannabinoids, all of these three letter acronyms and hyphenated abbreviations might seem overwhelming. You may be familiar with some of the more popular cannabinoids like CBD, Delta-8, THC, and so forth, and that’s great! The cannabinoid we’ll be going over in great detail today is one of the newest and most popular: HHC. If you’ve never heard of this cannabinoid or have only heard smatterings of this cannabinoid and are curious to learn more, you’re in luck. We’ll be doing an in-depth explanation of exactly what this cannabinoid is, how it came into existence, the effects of it, and whether or not it’s right for you. Let’s get started!

What’s In A Name? Well, Actually…EVERYTHING!

In order to fully appreciate the HHC cannabinoid, it’s important to understand the science behind it. HHC, short for hexahydrocannabinol, was first created in the 1940 by an American chemist named Roger Adams. In an age where marijuana was villainized as a gateway drug and used by miscreants of society, Adams spent countless hours researching for a better way to get high. He realized that while HHC was available in very small quantities with the seeds and pollen of the hemp plant, it would require some extra steps to make this small amount viable. To do so, he proceeded to saturate THC molecules with hydrogen under intense pressure within a catalyst (most likely with either palladium or nickel). This allowed the double bond of the THC to be broken and replaced with the hydrogen. The potency and effects of the new HHC cannabinoid remained intact and still bore striking resemblance to those of THC.

In fact, the use of hydrogen within the double bond increases the strength in which the THC attaches to the body’s natural endocannabinoid CB-1 and CB-2 receptors, and also your TRP receptors. The subtle change in the molecule’s chemical structure resulted in a much stronger and more stable bond than a traditional THC molecule. THC is known for its instability when left to oxidize or degrade. When THC is exposed to oxygen, it begins to break down very quickly. The hydrogen atoms within the THC are replaced with two new double bonds that result in a highly diminished cannabinoid known as CBN. CBN, short for cannabinol, contains a pitiful 10% of the original potency that it originally had as a THC molecule. Yet since HHC is actually a THC molecule saturated (read: “strengthened”) with hydrogen, the cannabinoid is actually much more stable when it is exposed to oxygen. HHC also has a much longer shelf life than traditional THC and is surprisingly resilient when exposed to both UV light and heat.

Is Hydrogenation Safe?

Hydrogenation is a very real part of our society today; in fact, hydrogenation is the process in which vegetable oil is used to create margarine, a more affordable version of butter. When hydrogen atoms are added to a chemical structure, the result is much more stable and can be used more freely. This same process is what allows us to enjoy HHC despite it only existing in trace amounts within the hemp plant. As of right now, there are approximately ten hydrogenated forms of this isomer in existence.

Is HHC Legal?

Just a few short years ago, a law was passed that stated that as long as a cannabinoid was derived from federally legal hemp and contained less than 0.3% THC, it would be considered legal on a federal level. Dubbed the 2018 Farm Bill, this piece of legislation allowed for the legal farming, sale, purchase, and consumption of many hemp-derived cannabinoids currently in the market. Whereas Delta-9 THC had previously been the only known psychoactive cannabinoid, now the market was inundated with psychoactive products that included Delta-8, Delta-10, THC-O, HHC, and many others.

Unfortunately, the explosion of psychoactive cannabinoids in the market prompted many states to issue their own legislation regarding hemp-derived cannabinoid consumption in their state. While HHC is indeed legal on a federal level, there are currently 12 states that outright ban it. The remaining 38 are either fully supportive or have not yet reached a decision on whether HHC should be banned.

What’s more is that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Association) decided to get involved shortly after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. DEA officials ruled that “all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule I controlled substances.” This is where the legality of HHC gets tricky. HHC does indeed exist in the hemp plant, therefore making it non-synthetic. Yet since it only exists in small quantities, it requires a chemical saturation of hydrogen to make it viable. Some lawmakers argue that this makes HHC semi-synthetic, which would classify it as a controlled substance under the DEA’s interim ruling. There has yet to be an official ruling of just what exactly HHC is classified as; until then, the decision is left to the user on whether or not it should be consumed.

What Does HHC Feel Like?

Since HHC is simply hydrogenated THC, the effects of HHC are very closely aligned with those from marijauana, specifically indica strains. Some of the more pleasurable side effects include warm euphoria, rich relaxation, enhanced creativity, sharpened focus, increased appetite (munchies!), and relief from muscle and joint aches. You may experience an increase in heart rate, drowsiness, and heightened body temperature. Other less-pleasurable side effects can include increased uneasiness and paranoia, difficulty falling asleep, cottonmouth, dizziness and disorientation, and reddened eyes. More research is needed to fully explain the pros and cons of HHC, but many users report it is stronger than Delta-8 THC, similar to Delta-9 THC, but less intense than THC-O.

How Much HHC Should I Take?

Reputable brands that carry HHC will often list the recommended dosage on either the product packaging or on the company website. These recommended dosages are intended as a guideline rather than a hard mandate. The actual dosage varies per person based on a number of factors including gender, age, weight, metabolism, previous exposure to THC, and much more.

If you’re just starting off with HHC, it’s best to start off with the recommended dosage or less. Once you have a better idea of how your body reacts to the dosage, you can tailor the dose to meet your needs by either increasing or decreasing the amount previously consumed. For new users, it’s recommended to start off with 10-20 mg in the initial dose. For more intermediate users, the recommended range is about 20-50mg per serving. Anything more than 50mg per serving is considered a heavy dose and should only be consumed by those with high tolerances seeking an extremely heady high.

Is It Possible To Consume Too Much HHC?

Just as with any cannabinoid, it is possible to consume more than the recommended amount of HHC. Taking too much HHC can result in extreme paranoia, intense dry mouth, disorientation and dizziness, and many other similar side effects to consuming too much THC. This is why manufactures strongly encourage users to start off slowly with small dosages. You might even consider microdosing for extended health benefits without ever getting high. If you do accidentally consume more HHC than intended, the most important thing to do is to remain calm and remind yourself that the high will eventually end and you can resume normal activities in a few short hours. The risks of consuming too much HHC does not carry the same negative connotation as, say, overdosing on narcotics, but the unpleasantness of the high will most likely dissuade you from taking that amount again.


There’s much to be desired with HHC-infused products, but there is still much we don’t know. Many manufacturers do not carry HHC products and many labs do not even have the ability to conduct full-panel tests yet. HHC is considered a non-synthetic cannabinoid due to it existing naturally in the hemp plant. Yet there is some legal gray area since it must be chemically altered before being viable. HHC has a longer shelf life due to being more stable and has a higher resistance to oxidation, heat, and UV light. The effects of HHC are similar to Delta-9 THC, particularly indica strains. If you do decide to consume HHC, do so at your own discretion and be sure to conduct your own research before completing your purchase. Here at Erth Hemp, we currently offer HHC disposable vapes and HHC gummies, both with verified lab results available upon request. We strongly encourage you to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have about this article or HHC in general. Feel free to share your experiences with our HHC products in the comments below; we look forward to hearing from you soon!

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