The new cannabinoid HHC: what it is and what is the difference with CBD and THC

Il nuovo cannabinoide HHC: cos’è e qual’è la differenza con CBD e THC

The new cannabinoid HHC: what it is and what is the difference with CBD and THC

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Irene Sforza : ✍🏼

A new cannabinoid has made its way from the United States and is becoming popular on all legal cannabis and hemp blogs: obviously we are talking about hexahydrocannabinol (HHC). Today we find out what it is and its differences with CBD and THC.

The idea to write this article came to us when we at MamaMary visited the Cannafest in Prague where HHC was present on the posters of most of the stands, becoming the absolute protagonist of this festival.

Looking around, however, we realized that he is not yet well known on the Italian scene. Furthermore, the fact that it is new on the market makes the literature on it very confusing and contradictory, especially regarding its effects and its actual legality.

So let's try to clarify and find out:

Ready? Let's go!

What is HHC?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a semi-synthetic molecule. In fact, a process called "hydrogenation" is used for its production, which transforms CBD into HHC. It is semi-synthetic precisely because it comes from natural ingredients and is then modified in the laboratory, but its nature is still biological.

Its birth occurred in 1944 from an idea by Roger Adams, and it could be said that HHC was discovered in the laboratory. As? The scientist added hydrogen molecules to delta-9 THC producing this semi-synthetic product which, in addition to having effects similar to THC, had effects on the central nervous system. Originally this molecule was therefore created from THC, but now, thanks to the great availability of legal industrial hemp plants, its creation is mainly done starting from CBD.

The methods used for its creation are described in detail by Allison Justice, Ph.D., CEO of The Hemp Mine, saying that the process by which HHC is produced is the same one used for some products we consume every day, such as margarine. In fact, it is a process known as hydrogenation , that is, adding hydrogen atoms to the compound using a chemical element belonging to the metal family as a catalyst. Using the previous example, from vegetable oil thanks to the process, margarine is obtained.

Referring to the production of HHC, the doctor adds:

<<The addition of two other [hydrogens] makes the "hexa" ring hydrogenated” >> from here “hexahydrocannabinol” would derive. Then he continues: <<In other words, all six carbons of the ring are completely saturated with hydrogens. This increases stability, but also changes the molecule's ability to interact with cannabinoid receptors.>>

Its effects, according to many consumers, are surprisingly similar to those of THC, but milder and with a psychoactive component present but limited. To describe them, Leafly reports the words of Liam Burns, of Bearly Legal ,

“Personally with HHC I feel energetic” he confirms “I go to the gym. I'm awake, my mind is working properly. Normally I have back and shoulder pain, but when I take it I don't feel them anymore.”

The active ingredient within the substance is the 9R HHC which binds to the endocannabinoid system producing the known effects, while the other molecule, the 9S HHC does not produce effects. For this reason, we usually try to produce HHC with a higher percentage of 9R HHC than that of 9S HHC. Whether or not its consumption is recommended, given its similarity to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is still a mystery.

Although no particular contraindications for the substance have yet been found nor side effects have yet been demonstrated, long-term studies have yet to be conducted. For now the substance seems to be available in many formats: from oil to liquid for vape pens, up to sweets, it seems to be very successful, especially in the United States.


We have already talked about what CBD is but let's summarize for those who are not experts on the subject: cannabidiol is a molecule that is found naturally inside the cannabis plant, also known as light cannabis or legal marijuana. It is therefore a cannabinoid that is found naturally within a plant, this is the first difference with hexahydrocannabinol which, as explained previously, is produced in the laboratory through the chemical process of hydrogenation, which makes it partially synthetic.

Another issue that makes them differ are the effects produced by each of these two substances. From this point of view we find a very strong point in common, in fact both act on the endocannabinoid system.

Cannabidiol is mainly renowned for its relaxing and therapeutic effects, its interaction with the cannabinoid system and its strong analgesic, calming and anti-inflammatory properties have made it the first choice for many people suffering from pathologies and more.

The cannabinoid HHC, as previously mentioned, offers effects comparable to those of THC. Having said that, some studies also seem to celebrate its therapeutic effects . One in particular discusses its analgesic effects on some guinea pigs and encourages its study from this perspective also on humans.


Not only CBD, but also THC, is a cannabidiol naturally present in the cannabis plant, in particular its highest concentrations are found in type I and II sativa, which we all know by the name of "marijuana". The first difference therefore, as with CBD, is its biological nature versus the chemical nature of HHC.

Both substances then stimulate the endocannabinoid system, in different ways and producing different consequences.

If THC is the substance with psychoactive effects par excellence, the psychoactive properties of HHC are kept under control and can be chemically regulated, producing HHC with a greater component of its non-active part, i.e. 9S HHC.

More specifically, THC binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors producing those effects that we consider part of the "high sensation". Thanks to its chemical structure which resembles that of THC, hexahydrocannabinol could do the same, but in-depth studies on the subject have not yet been conducted, so although we do not know precisely whether this junction occurs we know that its effects can be compared to those of THC.

In particular, they seem to have in common the feeling of euphoria and lightness, improved mood, increased hunger and muscle relaxation.

Is HHC legal in Europe?

HHC has only recently been on the market but many formats can already be found: from flowers to oil, through to vape pen liquids, it seems to be landing in every sector of the cannabis market. There are many manufacturers and retailers who invest every day in this sector and in hhc-based products.

In America, its use and sale are partially clarified by the 2018 Farm Bill, a document which legalizes the cultivation of all those products that contain a percentage of THC lower than 0.3%. Since HHC is derived from industrial hemp it meets these conditions and qualifies as legal in most states across the country, although in some such as Idaho, Arkansas or Arizona, it is still illegal.

It should be known that the situation in Europe regarding its use and sale is confusing and varies from country to country. In Germany and France, for example, you can find many products that contain HHC, but it is a situation that we could compare with that of CBD in its infancy: as there is no single and clear law, each country legislates separately. In fact, in Italy there are still no laws regulating its sale or marketing, so it is in a gray area very similar to CBD, therefore stating whether it is legal or not is still a subject of discussion.

We will certainly have some beautiful ones to see in the coming months.

We hope that this article managed to clarify some doubts you had on the subject and tell us your experiences if you happened to try it!

Comment if you have any other questions: we will be happy to answer as best we can 😎

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