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What is HHC?

We don’t know much, but here’s a breakdown of what we do know.

  • HHC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid naturally produced in cannabis plants
  • HHC is a hydrogenated form of THC with more resistance to heat and UV exposure and a much longer shelf-life
  • HHC induces similar effects to THC and is comparably potent
  • Limited research exists into HHC’s safety, but users find it to be on par with THC

HHC is one of the least understood of the hemp-derived cannabinoids popping up all over the nation—such as delta 8 THC, delta-10 THC, and delta-O THC. It can be confusing to get good information on its effects on the body, its legality, and how it comes from the cannabis plant.

But figuring out HHC is worth your time, even though few retailers and online sellers of cannabinoid products carry it, usually as vape carts. Keep reading to learn all about HHC, including how it’s made, its legality, its effects, and more.

What Is HHC?

American chemist Roger Adams first created hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) in 1944 by combining hydrogen molecules and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also called delta-9 THC, in a high pressure environment and the presence of a catalyst like palladium. This process, called hydrogenation, converts THC to HHC, the hydrogenated form of THC. Hydrogenation works on compounds other than cannabinoids; a similar process, adding hydrogen atoms to the chemical structure of vegetable oil to stabilize it, creates margarine.

THC loses hydrogen atoms as it oxidizes, breaking down its double bond chemical structure. It then forms two new double bonds, and the new compound that is formed is cannabinol (CBN), with only about 10% of the psychoactive potency of THC.

This small change in THC’s molecular structure also increases THC’s binding affinity for the the TRP pain receptors and CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. HHC is also far more stable and resistant to heat, oxidation, and UV light.

How are the effects of HHC products HHC different from THC or delta-8?

Chemically speaking, HHC has an additional hydrogen molecule that THC lacks. Anecdotal evidence suggests that HHC is less potent with less powerful psychoactive effects than standard delta-9 THC, with similar effects to delta-8 for many users.

Part of the confusion surrounding the potency of HHC is that when this cannabinoid is made, it actually contains more than one kind of HHC molecule: 9R HHC and 9S HHC, the former of which more readily binds with the body’s natural receptors in its endocannabinoid system.

Is HHC indica or sativa?

Neither, really. It is sort of like isolating THC; it is its own unique cannabinoid. But many users suggest it is somewhat mild yet energizing, like a hybrid with a slight sativa edge.

Do HHC molecules show up on a drug test?

Some people claim HHC does not show up on drug tests. But this is unproven. Remember, technically any cannabinoids may be able to convert into 11-hydroxy-THC, a common drug test metabolite. The bottom line is, if drug testing is essential for your career, don’t bet on anecdotal evidence.

Is HHC safe to consume?

Yes. However, like any recently discovered hemp-derived cannabinoids, there is not really a standard dose and little known to science about hemp-derived cannabinoids (including HHC). Furthermore, makers of HHC products are not required to test their wares for potency and purity because they’re not subject to cannabis regulations in legal adult-use states. However, the best ones still do—look for about 99% HHC. Some labels also show the ratio of 9S and 9R HHC molecules.

Can you vape HHC?

Yes. Many retailers sell HHC gummies, vape cartridges, and other products.

Is hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) legal?

This is confusing, as it is for other cannabinoids like delta 8 THC.

HHC is derived from hemp plants, so most retailers argue that because it is not actually THC, HHC is legal at the federal level. HHC vapes, edibles, and gummies are all legal, just as the versions with delta-8, CBD, and other non-THC cannabinoids are.

However, some argue that HHC may be subject to the Federal Analogue Act, which lumps any derivative substances that are analogs to a Schedule I drug—in this case, conventional cannabis and its classic delta 9 THC, THC-O, or any cousins such as delta-8 THC or delta-10 THC—on that same Schedule I list.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made this more confusing by issuing an interim rule about cannabis and the 2018 Farm Bill. This rule says that all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols are still under Schedule I.

Of course this seems to be poised to change soon—for all cannabis products!

For now, it’s not 100% clear what the legality of HHC products is and what the difference between these and hemp products (which are legal nationwide) and cannabis products (which are not) are. Always check local laws before purchasing, even online!

What are HHC-O cannabinoids?

What is HHC-O, or HHC acetate? To create HHC-O, producers combine acetic anhydride and HHC molecules. This has the effect of making the HHC feel more potent as it binds more thoroughly to the cannabinoid receptors.

What are the side effects of HHC?

So far, users have found that HHC’s safety profile is similar to THC, and reported side effects of HHC are also similar to those of high dose THC:

  • Anxiety
  • Cottonmouth
  • Dizziness
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Red eyes

What’s the dose of HHC?

Age, weight, stomach contents, genetics, and tolerance levels all impact the appropriate dose of any psychoactive substance, including HHC. As a general guide, HHC lies between delta 8 (D8) and delta 9 THC (D9) in terms of potency. Always start low and go slow.

Typical delta 8 dosing is a good place to start with HHC:

  • Low dose: 10 – 20 mg per serving
  • Moderate dose: 20 – 50 mg per serving
  • Heavy dose: 50 – 100 mg per serving

New users of cannabinoids should always start with a small amount, or even a microdose (1–2 mg), before increasing the dose.

Key takeaways: What is HHC?

Every new cannabinoid is something new to try, and HHC is the latest and greatest. Time will tell if HHC is one of the cannabinoids you end up loving, but it’s definitely worth trying.

How to Stop Being High AF

(A letter to young me, that one Fourth of July)

Did you ever find yourself just SO uncomfortably high that you could barely stand it and cope?

We’ve all been there. For me it was on the Fourth of July years ago, when I was in college. Those brownies! They were baked in these little mini cupcake tins, and they were so good. Too good. I ate way too many.

How many too many?

Several hours later, certain that nuclear war was upon us (thanks, fireworks!), I felt myself having a heart attack. Only…I didn’t die.

Eventually, as somehow the 80s song “Heart Attack” by Olivia Newton-John played in my head on loop the way it used to sound on a warped cassette tape, I thought: “Why am I hearing this dumb song in my head?”

I realized: “Because you’re not having a heart attack, dummy. There was just a lot of cannabis in those brownies, and now you’re too high.”

And then I rolled my head to the side and realized I was laying on the bathroom floor with the floor mat covering me, blankie-style. Hoo boy!

Look, we’ve all been there. Hopefully your experience was less embarrassing.

In this post we cover how to recover from being too high, how you got too high in the first place, and how to hide it when you do get too high.

What is Making Me So High?

The cannabis plant is rich in natural cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which regulates various physiological functions, including anxiety, appetite, concentration, emotions, fear, focus, learning, memory, moods, motor and sensory functions, pain, sleep, and stress. THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, binds more strongly with CB1, however, which can lead to overstimulation, feelings of stress, anxiety, and paranoia.

THC interacts with the CB1 receptor to produce the intoxicating, mind-altering, and pleasurable effects of cannabis. However, these receptors may also become overstimulated, which can produce unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Difficulty holding conversations
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Increased stress and anxiety levels
  • Lethargy
  • Memory problems
  • Motor incoordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Poor judgment
  • Powerful couch lock

(Learn more about the Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/)

What To Do When You’re Too High

  1. Don’t Panic. I know, it’s easier said than done (believe me, I remember), but try not to panic. That fear of overdosing or death is making that panic attack worse, but remember: you can’t overdose on cannabis. That’s because there are not cannabinoid receptors in the brain center that control heartbeat and breathing in sufficient numbers to be overwhelmed in that way. High THC doses won’t affect your ability to breathe.
  2. Remember the Facts. Although some research shows long-term, regular marijuana use could be linked to heart disease, that may be because almost all research focuses on smoking, and any kind of smoking is related to heart disease. Cannabis use may also be linked to increased heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with atrial fibrillation in particular.
  3. Rest, and Sleep if Possible. Sleeping off the effects of THC is the best possible move you can make. Try to make it happen.
  4. Change Focus. A good distraction like a walk in a familiar setting or a pleasant show, or even some chores around the house may really help you. But avoid anything that demands solid judgment, quick thinking, or fast reflexes.
  5. Use CBD. CBD can offset many of THC’s mind-altering psychological effects. This is because CBD binds less readily with the CB1 receptor, so when it does, it won’t get you as high. Also, with CBD in place with the receptors, it’s more difficult for THC to bind to the receptors. My favorite way is to vape CBD oil for fast effects, usually within 15 minutes.
  6. Aromatherapy. This is basically making use of terpenes, which occur in nature; limonene, found in citrus, produces an uplifting, anti-stress effect, so it can help to suck on a lemon or drink lemon water. Caryophyllene is another relaxing terpene; find this one by chewing black pepper kernels or cloves to relieve the side effects of THC.
  7. Stay Hydrated. Common side effects of THC also include dry eyes and cottonmouth, so stay hydrated, avoid alcoholic drinks, and drink plenty of water.
  8. Eat Well. Eating healthy snacks stops edibles from hitting you too hard and also helps you not eat more edibles after the munchies hit. Also, sometimes the effects of cannabis on an empty stomach are more intense.
  9. Tell Someone You Trust. Make sure someone you trust is available—just in case!
  10. Know What You’re Using. Not all cannabis strains and products are the same. Remember that sativa strains may make you more paranoid, while indica strains may be more sedating. And edibles and concentrates are potent; a little goes a long way.
  11. Start Low, Go Slow. It’s good advice for us all, not just beginners! Smoking weed isn’t the same as smoking cigarettes, especially your first time. Especially for beginners new to edibles, start with a low dose and go slow.

Uh Oh: I Got Too High. Now What?

Now that you’re way too high…you’d better hide it, especially if you’re not in a recreational state.

  1. Check your eyes. Red eyes are a dead giveaway because smoking cannabis can reduce inner eye pressure, causing other blood vessels to expand. This is why some people with glaucoma use cannabis, but it also can make your eyes red. Keep some saline-based eye drops or sunglasses handy.
  2. Wash your hands. You probably smell like weed, especially on your hands. Lotion is also a good idea.
  3. Brush your teeth. Did I mention you smell like weed? It’s fine to eat mints but also brush before you go.
  4. It’s not that funny. Yes, you’re probably laughing too much. It’s hard, but cannabis is probably making you laugh too much, and at too many things. Later you’ll wonder why you thought that was funny, so especially if you’re at work, stop laughing so much!
  5. Stop talking. You’re also talking too much, and probably too fast. It’s probably a bunch of nonsense, too.
  6. Be still. Who knows why, but stoners love to fidget. Try to stay still or you’ll give yourself away.
  7. Try to suppress munchies. Or at least keep them private. The only people who eat entire boxes of cereal and whole pizzas like that are people with the munchies.

Final Thoughts on How to Sober Up Safely

There’s no question: being high AF is fun AF—until it isn’t! Getting too stoned can be uncomfortable and even scary, but the effects of THC always go away and they are not dangerous. Follow these tips to cope with THC’s negative side effects.