Understanding the Difference in THC & HHC
Cannabis use dates back thousands of years and spans countless civilizations, but scientists have only recently begun fully understanding what gives this plant its medical and recreational benefits.
The recent legalization of cannabis — with several states supporting medical or recreational marijuana and the Federal Government passing the 2018 Farm Bill to legalize hemp with 0.3% or less THC — has led to a massive increase in research and production.
By now, most people have heard of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You might not know that there are several forms of THC, the compound best known for causing the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
What is HHC? How does it compare to Delta 9 THC? What benefits can you expect when you choose HHC products?
This article will explain what you need to know to make informed decisions about the type of THC that’s right for you.
What Is Delta 9 THC?
When people simply say “THC,” they’re referring to Delta 9 THC. This molecule is the primary chemical compound in cannabis that’s responsible for psychoactive effects, feelings of euphoria, and the notion of being “high.”
Delta 9 THC is named for its double bond on the 9th carbon chain in its constituent molecule.
Because of this atomic configuration, Delta 9 is particularly suited to binding with receptors in the ECS, including CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system and CB2 receptors in the immune and other systems.
Delta-9 THC is created by enzymes in the cannabis plant that synthesize cannabinoids. It is relatively unstable and easily oxidized.
This instability contrasts somewhat with another form of THC gaining recognition lately: Delta 8 THC. This cannabinoid differs from Delta 9 THC in that the double bond occurs on the 8th carbon chain, impacting how the compound interacts with the ECS and the effects it produces.
Delta 8 THC doesn’t bond well to CB1 receptors, but it does have some affinity for bonding with CB2 receptors. While the effects of Delta 8 aren’t yet well understood, they are known to be similar to those of Delta 9 THC but weaker.
Interestingly, Delta 8 THC is produced when stored THC begins to degrade. However, it is more stable and longer-lasting than Delta 9.
What Is HHC?
If you haven’t heard of HHC, don’t feel bad. Researchers have identified hundreds of chemical compounds in cannabis, but only a handful have been extensively studied and brought to market.
Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, is a form of THC, like Delta 9 and Delta 8, and there are at least ten known types of HHC. It’s considered to be the most stable form of THC and is resistant to heat and UV radiation.
While HHC occurs naturally in cannabis, it is only present in trace amounts, which means it must be created in a lab to produce a volume great enough for effective use.
How Do HHC and Delta 9 Differ?
HHC differs from Delta 9 and Delta 8 THC in a very important way. Instead of featuring the critical double bond in its chemical structure, HHC is created through hydrogenation — saturation with hydrogen atoms — which causes the THC double bond to break and be replaced with hydrogen.
What does this mean? This change to the chemical makeup results in greater stability, making HHC far less vulnerable to oxidation and giving it a much longer shelf-life. You can store it longer without losing potency, and it will hold up better to heat and UV exposure.
With that being said, the lack of a typical double bond does impact how this chemical compound interacts with the ECS.
Does HHC Produce Similar Effects to Delta 9 THC?
Although this compound is relatively new and has not been subjected to extensive study at this point, what is known is that it produces effects similar to other forms of THC, including:
- Changes to visual and auditory perception
- Changes in heart rate and body temperature
- Changes in cognition
HHC is less powerful than Delta 9 THC but more potent than Delta 8 THC.
With that being said, the effects tend to fall in line with Delta 8 THC, which is to say, they lean more toward relaxation and relief than stimulation.
As such, HHC may be used to relieve symptoms like pain and inflammation, enhance sleep, boost appetite, and relieve anxiety, although more research needs to be done to develop a better understanding of its effects.
Is HHC Legal?
When it comes to variants of Delta 9 THC, there are some legal gray areas. They hinge on whether compounds are naturally occurring (versus synthesized) and the volume at which they occur.
When it comes to HHC, the legality is debatable. Yes, it occurs naturally in trace amounts, but greater amounts would probably need to be created in a lab for meaningful effects.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, only hemp cannabis featuring 0.3% or less Delta 9 THC is federally legal. As a result, Delta 8 products have gained popularity, although several states are now limiting access to these products.
HHC falls into the same legal loophole as Delta 8. As long as it’s in products that adhere to rules regarding Delta 9 limitations, it is technically legal unless it is deemed synthesized.
Does HHC Show Up in Your Urine or Blood?
Most drug panels test for Delta 9 THC, or more specifically, 11-hydroxy-THC, the metabolite that results from THC consumption.
Although Delta 8 THC may also generate positive results on urine and blood tests, it is believed that HHC will not metabolize the same way because of its altered chemical structure.
While more research needs to be done to determine the efficacy and legality of HHC, it offers an intriguing alternative to THC that delivers similar effects, far more stability, and the potential to provide needed relief without the worry of failing a drug test.
Find Delta 9 Alternatives at The Hemp Haus