Hemp derived HHC is not THC, but it does provide a THC lean experience

Among the wave of cannabinoids derived from hemp that is breaking we find: delta 8 THC, the delta O THC and delta 10 THC, among others. Among the less known to the public, HHC: this cannabinoid derived from hemp has a lot of potential, but it also raises many questions.

What is HHC?

Searching for this compound on Google reveals a lot of conflicting information: on its legality, its effects on the body, and even on its natural presence in the cannabis plant.

It is difficult to understand HHC, not least because it has only recently appeared on the market and only a handful of retailers sell it, mainly in the form of a vape. This cannabinoid offers great potential, however; don't be surprised if you start hearing about it soon.

As federal and state agencies continue to ban delta-8 THC, the most popular hemp-derived cannabinoid, HHC offers a bit more legal promise - and allure - since it is not a THC compound at all. It can also escape drug testing, although the evidence is purely anecdotal at this point.

“HHC is one of our fastest growing products. This is due to regulations that have banned the Delta-8, but people buy it in states where they can also buy Delta-8. "

Liam Burns, founder and CEO of Bearly Legal Hemp, a leading retailer of this cannabinoid, told Leafly.

How did HHC come about?

Le HHC was established in 1944 by the American chemist Roger Adams, when he added hydrogen molecules to Delta-9 THC. This process, called hydrogenation, converts THC to hexahydrocannabinol (HHC).

Hydrogenation is not limited to the production of cannabinoids. A similar process is used to convert vegetable oil into margarine.

hydrogenation process

While Adams created HHC from conventional THC derived from cannabis, nowadays the cannabinoid is typically derived through a process that begins with hemp, the low THC cannabis plant that was made federally legal. by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill.

It is a multi-step process. First, CBD is extracted from raw hemp, distilled, and isolated in powder form. From there, things get a little more complicated.

Is the manufacture of HHC safe?

Richard Sams, scientific director of KCA Laboratories in Nicholasville, Ky., Has been testing HHC products over the past few months (including, by the way, those from Bearly Legal). He said to Leafly that HHC can be safely produced in a well-equipped laboratory. But if you increase production, the risks also increase. "The potential risk here is that of explosions," he explained.

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Colorado Chromatography's Kyle Ray noted that his company manufactures its HHC in a secure "explosion-proof" space. Everything takes place underground, there is no risk of static discharge, ”he explained.

What are the effects of HHC on the body and mind?

There is no consensus on the potency of HHC. Part of the complication is that when the cannabinoid is made, the end result is a mixture of two different types of HHC molecules: 9R HHC actively binds to the body's natural endocannabinoid receptors, while 9S HHC , due to its slightly different molecular structure, does not do so well.

"The one that binds [to the receptors] produces similar effects" to delta-8 THC, but it takes a much larger amount to achieve this. "With a sufficient dose, one can observe effects similar to those of THC".

said Richard Sams, of KCA Laboratories

In other words, HHC can have similar effects to THC on the body and mind, but HHC is less potent, milligram by milligram, than delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC itself is generally considered to be half the potency of standard delta-9 THC.

How powerful is HHC?

Kyle Ray, of Colorado Chromatography, told Leafly that while the ratios of active and inactive HHC molecules can vary from batch to batch, they must be at least 50% active to be accepted.

“Trying to isolate and separate these two molecules from each other would be so unprofitable that it wouldn't really make a viable product,” he explained. “Our goal, therefore, when we manufacture our HHC, is always to maximize the amount of the active [compound] and to minimize the amount of the less active [compound]. However, it is never a perfect game. We are generally around 2: 1 or 1: 1. "

When it comes to the effects of HHC, Liam Burns of Bearly Legal is a true believer.

“Personally, with HHC, I feel energetic,” he said. “I go to the gym. I am sharp, my brain is functioning properly. I usually have back and shoulder pain, but I don't have any pain when I'm on it. "

Does HHC show up in a screening test?

Burns, of Bearly Legal, believes part of the appeal of HHC stems from the evidence suggesting it can evade drug testing. But, and this is important, he recognizes that this evidence is only anecdotal. It's just what he hears from his customers.

James Stephens, vice president of innovation at Creo, a cannabinoid biotechnology company, saw similar arguments made about HHC. “I have also seen the advertisement that HHC does not turn into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is a common metabolite in drug tests, ”he told Leafly. “It could possibly be used to evade drug testing regimes if this proves to be true,” he added.

A word of advice: There is no hard evidence that HHC does not show up in a test for marijuana. Don't bet your job or career on anecdotal evidence.

Is HHC Safe to Consume?

Like all newer cannabinoids derived from hemp, there is no standard dose and little to no research on the immediate or long-term effects of ingesting HHC.

Since cannabinoids derived from hemp (including HHC) are not subject to cannabis regulations in states where use is legal for adults, manufacturers and retailers of HHC products are not required to test the potency and purity of their products.

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Bearly Legal, however, includes the results of third party testing with its HHC products, by KCA Laboratories. These tests show that the vape cartridges contain around 99% HHC. (The ratio of the 9R to 9S HHC molecules in the test amounts, strangely, to just over 100%. Colorado Chromatography attributed this result to slight deviations in the margin of error).

Is HHC Legal?

And now we come to perhaps the thorniest question of all: is HHC legal?

Bearly Legal responds in the affirmative. The company's website claims that since HHC is derived from hemp and is not THC, there is no problem. "Vapes, gums or edibles based on HHC are perfectly legal at the federal level and will most likely remain so at the state level", we can read on the site.

Company officials further claim that, since HHC is found in the seeds and pollen of hemp plants, it is "non-synthetic" and therefore "fully legal federally-legal hemp extraction."

Other retailers, unsurprisingly, agree. In odd branded content that appeared recently in LA Weekly, Binoid claims the cannabinoid is legal… with the caveat that it can “eventually” be shipped to all 50 states.

Other experts are more skeptical. James Stephens, the cannabinoid scientist at Creo, believes HHC is subject to the Federal Analogues Act, which states that any substance analogous to a Schedule I drug, in this case conventional THC, would be it. - even considered a Schedule I drug. As THC remains illegal, so too would HHC. Mr Stephens also believes that this substance has important similarities to the synthetic drugs K2 and Spice, which mimic THC and are also classified as Schedule 1 drugs.

“I don't think HHC is legal,” he told Leafly.

At the moment, HHC products exist (and thrive) in the obscure legal zone between hemp (which is legal nationwide) and cannabis (which is not). Until HHC comes under a state-regulated system, consumers will have to weigh the risks and benefits of these compounds for themselves.

Benefits of hydrogenated cannabinoids

A major advantage of hydrogenation is that it provides stability at the molecular level, contributing to both shelf life and heat resistance. Hydrogenation is a chemical transformation on unsaturated compounds to improve their stability and resistance to thermo-oxidative degradation, which occurs when these compounds are in the presence of air. This is the reason why you cannot leave cooking oils on the counter exposed to the sun, as this reaction will eventually make them rancid. Hydrogenation improves oxidative stability by removing unsaturation.

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Cannabinoid structures

Research in this area will provide a better understanding as researchers gain a better understanding of hydrogenated cannabinoids and their impact on the human body.

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