What Is HHC? What Are Its Benefits & Is It Safe?

Learn more about what HHC is, its benefits, and whether or not it's safe.

HHC is a new product you’re probably already seeing on your favorite vape shop shelves. It’s a hemp-derived cannabinoid, and it’s starting to make waves.

What makes HHC so special is that it, like Delta-8 THC, can deliver something close to a THC high. This is a highly sought after prize, but there are still a lot of questions about HHC.

Here’s everything you should know about HHC.

What Is HHC?

If it feels like there are always new cannabinoids, it’s because there are. HHC is just emerging as a new favorite in the world of hemp-derived cannabinoids, but what even is HHC?

HHC stands for hexahydrocannabinol. It’s essentially a cannabinoid with an extra hydrogen molecule attached to it. It’s naturally occurring in very small amounts, but can be readily synthesized in a lab.

HHC has effects similar to a mild THC high. It’s energy and boosts creativity, but the effects are generally very light when compared to THC. You can expect most of the same side effects as you would experience with old-fashioned THC.

What Is HHC? What Are Its Benefits & Is It Safe?

How Is HHC Produced?

Alright, let’s talk chemistry—we promise this is the fun, hemp-based, kind of chemistry!

HHC is produced by sticking a hydrogen atom onto a THC molecule. This is a process known as hydrogenation. It might sound a little complex, but hydrogenation is the same process that turns vegetable oil into something like vegetable-based butter.

HHC is also made using other cannabinoids. HHC is most currently made using CBD as the cannabinoid of choice.

The process for turning CBD into HHC is a little complex, but it all comes down to chemical reactions. Most hemp labs have proprietary processes for creating their HHC.

HHC is also one of those cannabinoids that you can’t make at home. This requires specialized lab equipment and potentially dangerous chemicals. Large scale HHC production facilities need to be done in “explosion-proof” labs with grounded equipment to reduce the risk of static shock.

HHC comes out as a thick, golden oil. It can be further refined from that raw form to be included into HHC vapes and other products.

Who First Synthetized HHC?

HHC is naturally occurring in hemp plants which means that it is not, technically, a synthetic cannabinoid. With that said, commercial HHC is artificially produced in labs.

You’ll have to thank 1940s researcher and chemist Roger Adams for the creation of HHC. There was a brief moment in time in the United States where research into cannabis compounds was much more relaxed. This research gave us many of the hemp derivative products we know and love today.

What Are The Effects & Side Effects Of HHC?

There’s still a lot of mystery when it comes to the effects of HHC. As with new or synthetic cannabinoids, HHC still has to undergo a lot of testing before we can say for sure. However, there are a few things that are pretty clear about HHC.

The first is the potency of HHC. There are actually two types of HHC molecules made in the synthesizing process. One is high potency and has the potential to deliver a THC like high. The other is low potency and has much lighter effects.

There’s currently no reliable way to separate the two in the manufacturing process. This means that the strength of your HHC vape is going to be a little hard to predict.

When HHC does hit, it feels a lot like Delta-8 THC. It’s a little stronger and might be closer to a very mellow Delta-9 THC strain, but “stronger Delta-8” is a good way to think about it. HHC might also lack some of the psychoactive punch of Delta-9 THC.

We don’t currently know much about the long-term side effects of HHC. However, we do know that it has similar immediate side effects as Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. You can expect dry mouth, red eyes, increased appetite, and even anxiety and paranoia in severe cases.

Will HHC Show Up In A Drug Test?

HHC might not show up in a standard drug test. However, this doesn’t mean you have a green light to use HHC if your job regularly tests for cannabinoids. Let’s take a closer look at how cannabinoid drug tests work and why HHC might dodge these tests—for now.

Drug tests don’t look for the drugs themselves, but rather the chemicals that those drugs turn into when the body metabolizes them. A cannabis drug test isn’t looking for THC, but rather 11-hydroxy-THC which is a common metabolite of THC. There is some evidence that suggests that HHC does not metabolize into 11-hydroxy-THC and will therefore dodge most weed drug tests.

You should still exercise good judgment and caution when using HHC products. There isn’t solid research into HHC metabolites which means that 11-hydroxy-THC could very well be present after using HHC products. Drug tests will also likely evolve to include HHC metabolites at some point in the future.

What Is HHC? What Are Its Benefits & Is It Safe?

Is HHC Safe?

The safety of any new cannabinoid is one of the most important things to know when exploring legal alternatives to Delta-9 THC. HHC is relatively new which means we don’t yet know much about safe dosing, side effects, and other issues HHC might cause.

HHC is also unregulated for adult use which means there are no standards for purity and strength. The best thing you can do is to shop for HHC products that use third-party testing to verify the contents of your HHC vape or edible.

These third-party labs analyze HHC products for purity and strength. That third-party reporting is often printed right on the product’s label or available on the manufacturer’s website.

Is HHC Legal?

HHC is in the same legal gray area that all cannabinoids find themselves in. Let’s do some hemp law 101 to find out just how legal HHC is.

It all starts with the 2018 farm bill. The 2018 farm bill legalized hemp derivatives as long as they contained less than 0.3 percent THC. This opened the door for everything from CBD to HHC to enter the legal market.

However, there was a catch. Many of these Delta-9 THC alternatives skirted the law when it came to what counted as “legal hemp derivative.” There was a lot of federal and state-level uncertainty about these products.

Things took another turn in May 2022 when the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Delta-8 THC was, in fact, legal under the 2018 farm bill.

HHC is also considered a “semi-synthetic” compound from a legal standpoint. The federal government goes much harder on “synthetic” drugs than it does on naturally occurring compounds.

HHC has not expressly mentioned in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision and its status as a “semi-synthetic” means that it is still in a legal gray area. While it is legal on a federal level for now, it might be illegal in your state or local area.

Can You Vape HHC?

You can vape HHC. HHC is a popular choice for vaping as it produces effects similar to Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. HHC also comes in edibles, oils, and other forms.

Does HHC Have Medical Uses?

There currently isn’t a lot of good research into HHC and its potential medical uses. HHC is very similar to Delta-8 THC, so we can make a few inferences as to the potential uses for this new cannabinoid.

HHC fans have already reported that it boosts mood which is a great feature of most THC-adjacent products. This means it could be an effective part of treating mood disorders or even anxiety.

HHC also boosts appetite. Medical cannabis has already shown great results for improving appetite and HHC could find itself playing a similar role in the near future.

HHC hasn’t been tested when it comes to pain relief. THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids have a strong reputation for pain relief and as sleep aids, but HHC just isn’t widely used enough to test out those effects yet.

What Is HHC? What Are Its Benefits & Is It Safe?

How Does HHC Compare To THC?

Comparing HHC to THC is a little tricky. THC, specifically Delta-9 THC, is the granddaddy of all cannabinoids and the gold standard to which we look when comparing any hemp derivative.

HHC is a little less powerful than THC. It can deliver many of the same effects, but with less intensity. HHC dosing is also poorly understood which means it’s a little hard to say how much HHC you need to get close to a THC-like experience.

The HHC high is very cerebral with some people also experiencing a boost in energy. People talk about HHC the same way they would a very mild Sativa strain THC product. While potency varies greatly from batch to batch for HHC, you can expect to be in the general area of a light to mild THC high.

Wrapping Up HHC

HHC is created by adding a hydrogen atom to another cannabinoid like THC or CBD. It’s a semi-synthetic substance that is currently legal, but in questionable position. HHC delivers on a THC-like high and can be used with your favorite vape pen.


Jules M
Jules M
Jules is our vaping font of knowledge. He has been a passionate vaping supporter since 2013 and spends his time trying to educate people with ‘facts’ on the safety and benefits of vaping.

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