HHC sounds too good to be true. It gets you high like marijuana; it’s almost as potent, and according to the federal government, it’s legal!
“Is HHC legal?” is one of the most common questions that I get. So, I’m pleased to report that HHC is everything that it’s made out to be.
In this post, I’ll be looking at why HHC is legal and whether it’s likely to stay so. First, though, I want to show you my five favorite HHC products on the market!
What is HHC?
Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a psychoactive substance and a hydrogenated derivative of THC. While a slightly different compound to THC, HHC is part of the cannabinoid family and impacts the body similarly.
HHC works in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a CB1 receptor agonist. By binding with CB1 receptors, HHC triggers psychoactive effects and euphoria, stimulates appetite, and appears to reduce pain sensation.
HHC products come from hemp and are in high demand as an alternative to marijuana. Even though cannabis is now legal in a few states, it’s still inaccessible to most Americans.
As a substance with similar effects to weed, HHC is the perfect legal high. The only difference is that it’s a bit weaker and more sedating than THC.
Why is HHC legal?
HHC is legal because of the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill). Lawmakers decided to legalize hemp, a non-intoxicating cannabis plant with health benefits, practical uses, and immense economic potential.
But the way the federal government went about de-scheduling hemp opened the door to hemp-derived legal highs, including delta-8, delta-10, and HHC. We must examine how lawmakers defined hemp in the bill to understand why.
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is the Cannabis Sativa plant “and any part of that plant including the… cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts… with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration (THC) of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.”
In a nutshell, all cannabinoids in hemp are now de-scheduled except for THC. That’s why all hemp-derived products – whether they are CBD, delta-8, or HHC – must have less than 0.3% THC.
Is the government going to ban HHC?
Unsurprisingly, those who have taken a liking to HHC products are worried that the federal government might spoil the fun.
We can’t kid ourselves. Lawmakers never planned on legalizing HHC products – it was a happy accident that came thanks to wider hemp legislation!
The federal government, and more specifically, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), could move to close the legal loophole. It wouldn’t be the first time an oversight had been corrected.
But the signs are promising, with no crackdown on the immediate horizon. Recent DEA comments may even suggest a bright future for hemp-derived legal highs like HHC!
We must look at what’s happened late with the prominent delta-8 to guess what’s next for HHC. Whether HHC should be legal or not centers around whether it’s synthetic.
Is HHC synthetic?
The most significant update to the 2018 Farm Bill came when the DEA published an Interim Final Rule (IFR) in August 2020. In the ruling, the DEA clarified that “all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule 1 substances.”
Both delta-8 and HHC are naturally occurring substances, but delta-8 and HHC products are made from distillate created in a laboratory.
Labs make delta-8 and HHC, as hemp doesn’t generate much of either. Natural extraction, as happens when making CBD products, is too expensive.
The initial IFR merely added to the confusion surrounding hemp-derived legal highs. But in a November 2022 update, the DEA noted that it considers THC “synthetically produced from non-cannabis materials” as a controlled substance.
Although lab-made HHC isn’t 100% natural, it does come from cannabis materials. HHC distillate starts as CBD or THC before undergoing hydrogenation.
The DEA’s comments have come more in relation to delta-8 than HHC. However, given the similarities, we can assume that anything applying to delta-8 would also be relevant to HHC.
We’re in a fluid situation, and hemp-based legal highs are still relatively new. The DEA could take a firmer stance in the future and move to restrict other cannabinoids. But for now, it seems the DEA does not view HHC products as synthetic.
Types of HHC Products
Disposables and vape cartridges: Convenient and fast-acting, HHC vape juice products are perfect if you want hard-hitting and flavorful highs.
Disposables come with a built-in battery, whereas cartridges attach to vape batteries using the 510-threaded system. Disposables and cartridges typically consist of 85 to 95% HHC distillate, with the rest comprising terpenes.
Vaping is an effective and reasonably safe alternative to smoking. UK-based researchers have suggested that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.
Flower: HHC flower describes CBD-rich hemp flower soaked in or sprayed with high-strength HHC distillate. Perfect for smoking in joints or bowls, HHC Flower delivers an authentic weed experience while ensuring you stay within the law.
If smoking isn’t your thing, try vaping HHC flower in a dry herb vaporizer. Vaping doesn’t expose you to toxic, smoke-based carcinogens by heating but not burning the plant material.
Tinctures: HHC tincture oils consist of HHC distillate extract, a carrier oil (often MCT oil), and usually artificial or natural flavorings. Primarily enjoyed sublingually (i.e., under the tongue), choose tinctures if you don’t like smoking or vaping.
Sublingual absorption of HHC is a slower method of administration than inhalation, but it will still get you high more quickly than edibles and capsules. You should start noticing the psychoactive effects about 15 minutes after taking your tincture.
Edibles: You might pick edibles if you prefer long-lasting cannabis highs. Rather than wearing off after about three hours, an HHC gummy dose could get you stoned all day!
But to experience these extended effects, you must accept a delayed reaction time. HHC edibles are notoriously slow to kick in, and it can take two to three hours for your high to peak.
Does HHC Show Up on a Drug Test?
I’ve seen conflicting reports on whether HHC shows up on a drug test. All standard drug tests can detect THC consumption, but it’s not clear if HHC also triggers a failed test.
As HHC’s emergence as a popular substance is new, scientists haven’t studied it much. A paper from the early 1990s found that HHC’s metabolites are 8 alpha-hydroxy-HHC and 8 beta-hydroxy-HHC. THC’s metabolite is THC-COOH.
Remember that HHC is a hydrogenated derivative of THC. Given the similarities of cannabinoids and their metabolites, it wouldn’t be a surprise if HHC metabolites set off a positive test.
Even if HHC does evade drug tests, HHC products could still cause problems. For instance, some products, such as HHC flower, contain trace amounts of THC – regular consumption of these products could easily show up on a test.
Furthermore, shoddy hydrogenation practices could leave an HHC product with plenty of THC residuals. Many companies claim to make THC-free HHC products. But don’t take their word for it – make sure they have a third-party lab report to back it up.
Is HHC Better than THC?
If you live in California, Colorado, or any other location where marijuana is legal, HHC probably isn’t better than THC. But if you’re in Alabama, Arkansas, or any other prohibited state, HHC is much preferable!
HHC is my favorite hemp-derived legal high, as it replicates THC more closely than delta-8 or delta-10. I agree with the estimates that HHC is around 80% as powerful as THC, and I only need to adjust my dose slightly to hit my sweet spot.
Effects-wise, you might enjoy HHC more than THC if you’re prone to side effects from regular weed. HHC’s milder nature somewhat lowers the risk of anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Where Can I Buy HHC Products?
You can buy HHC products online. I recommend purchasing HHC from companies that have a history in the hemp scene and experience selling CBD and delta-8 products.
These guys either know how to make products themselves or how to find brands that do. Quality is hard to come by in the world of hemp, as is always the case in unregulated markets. But specialist online HHC retailers know what to look for!