What is

HHC is short for Hexahydrocannabinol and is a hydrogenated version of delta-9 and delta-8-THC. Hydrogenated essentially means it’s exposed to hydrogen which adds a few hydrogen atoms altering its chemical make-up. In the same way we hydrogenate oil to turn it into margarine, HHC is the I can’t believe it’s not butter version of THC.

How it all began

U.S. Chemist Roger Adams Isolated CBD 75 Years Ago

HHC has been around since the 1940s but has only recently gained traction as people are hunting for semi-legal cannabinoids. It was first synthesized in 1944 by Roger Adams, a gifted organic chemist who discovered THC and cultivated and identified CBD. Despite being outlawed by the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, Adams fought to legally study cannabis. He discovered and named Adam’s catalyst, a.k.a. Platinum dioxide, which is used in various chemical reactions including hydrogenation, hydrogenolysis, dehydrogenation, and oxidation. Essentially, in hydrogenation, hydrogen is added to a chemical compound using a metal. For HHC you saturate THC with hydrogen atoms using high pressure and a metal catalyst like nickel or palladium. In the case of Adams, he used platinum dioxide. Why would a decades old version of THC be in such high demand? There’s been a huge push for cannabinoids that can offer cannabis consumers something new, or to find a loophole to offer people a legal high in areas where cannabis isn’t legal. All cannabinoids come from CBG and various chemical processes inside the cannabis plant will alter a cannabinoid’s make-up. For example, CBG-A, the acid that becomes CBG, will become THC-A or CBD-A depending on the needs of the plant. Similarly, as THC breaks down, over time, it will create delta-8-THC, delta-10-THC, HHC, and CBN. These are all psychoactive compounds but are all less reactive than traditional THC. CBN is often found in decent amounts while the rest can be very rare. With a little chemical finagling, CBD harvested from hemp, or delta-8-THC also obtained from legal hemp can be hydrogenated and converted into HHC. The goal is to market legal cannabinoid products to people nationwide. Unlike the deltas, HHC does have some benefits that can even make it even slightly superior to THC. ​


Roger Adams
Cannabis Research Commences

Adams Synthesizes CBD, Identifies THC From a scientific standpoint, Adams’ most important work was his cannabis research in the early 1940s when he identified and synthesized cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN). In 1942, he won a patent for his method of isolating CBD. Adams was also the first researcher to identify tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and published 27 studies on cannabis in the American Journal of Chemistry. But Adams never actually isolated THC directly from the plant; instead, he synthesized it in the lab by tweaking the molecular structure of other cannabinoids, principally CBD. Adams apparently had been looking for the psychoactive cannabinoid; he knew it had to exist and had a good idea of its molecular makeup, but never actually identified it in the plant, apparently because the technology later used by Mechoulam wasn’t available to him back in the ’40s.

How potent is HHC?

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’m sharp, my brain’s working properly. I typically have back and shoulder pain, but I have no pain when I’m on it.”

Aside from a faintly plastic-y taste, my own experience with the company’s HHC vape carts was similarly pleasant. Although the Blue Dream cart didn’t give me the same energy boost, it offered a pleasant and mildly cerebral high, and it did in fact soothe my aching muscles, too.

What is the Difference between HHC and THC

The main difference between HHC and THC is the extra hydrogen atoms. These hydrogen atoms may not seem like much but they do offer some unique chemical benefits that can even surpass THC. This extra hydrogen helps increase HHC’s binding affinity for the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, as well as the TRP pain receptors.These receptors govern different body processes. CB1 receptors govern metabolism and some cognitive processes. Attachment to CB1 receptors is part of the cause of the “high” of THC. CB2 receptors govern immune cells and inflammation. This combination means that HHC can offer you some psychoactive benefits as well as pain relief, appetite-support, and euphoric feelings. Another benefit of hydrogenation is that it makes HHC more stable. THC can expire as exposure to oxygen oxidizes THC causing it to break down. In oxidation, THC will lose hydrogen atoms and will convert into CBN, along with trace amounts of delta-8 and delta-10. CBN only has about 10% of the potency of THC so there’s a lot of power in that hydrogen. HHC is more stable and doesn’t lose its potency when exposed to oxygen, heat, or light which are the top 3 enemies of THC. These three often make your flower and edibles go bad. One similarity between HHC and THC is that HHC has a few isomers. Deltas 8, 9, and 10 are all different isomers of THC. HHC has its own isomers including Cannabiripsol and other variants with long chemical names like 9α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol and 7-oxo-9α-hydroxyhexan-hydrocannabinol. Most importantly, HHC and THC can function in slightly different ways in your body .

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