WARNING: As the article explains, you should never inhale HHC-O vapor or fumes. When heated, the acetate form of any cannabinoid is likely to produce ketene, a dangerous lung toxicant. This risk first came to light during research on THC-O, but it applies to the acetate forms of all cannabinoids.
Like delta 8 before it, HHC is a darling of the legal cannabis industry. This is to be expected from a federally legal hemp derivative with effects comparable to delta 9 THC. While HHC carts and HHC edibles don’t have complete control over the hemp world, they have become favorites.
The cannabis community’s response to HHC has been positive. Of course, there are negative opinions, but this is true for any popular product. Many users praise the uplifting, dreamy high, while others claim it’s more hazy or disorienting than other forms of psychoactive cannabis.
Although HHC can get you high, the experience is milder than using delta 9 THC, the dominant intoxicating compound in marijuana. The type of high is relatively similar between the two, despite the difference in potency. Delta 9 and HHC also share a handful of side effects.
As with modern cannabinoids in general, manufacturers are eager to produce new products under the HHC name. Small adjustments to the chemical structure of the substances led to the creation of HHC-P and HHC-O.
Before trying any of these newcomers, we recommend reviewing their effects, pros and cons. In the case of HHC-Os, there are even important safety risks to be aware of.
Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a natural cannabis compound or phytocannabinoid. Small amounts of HHC occur naturally in hemp, but direct extraction is neither practical nor cost-effective. Manufacturers use hydrogenation to convert CBD into HHC more easily. Delta 8 THC acts as a mediator in this process.
Science has been eyeing HHC longer than many new derivatives, including delta 10 THC and THCV. The HHC cannabinoid was discovered by American chemist Roger Adams in the 1940s, around the same time as CBD and delta 8 THC. Further research by HHC was not extensive.
Certain HHC analogs may be able to slow tumor growth in breast cancer patients. Some users report that HHC helps with pain relief, a claim supported by research. In 2007, a special team of chemists made the first link between HHC and pain reduction. None of these studies involved humans.
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, HHC is a legal hemp derivative in the United States. This was reiterated by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2022, clearing up the remaining confusion over the legality of psychoactive hemp.
If you’re looking for a marijuana-like high but with reduced intensity, HHC is the best choice. Mind-numbing cerebral highs are common, and some individuals experience muscle relaxation or minor pain relief.
Hexahydrocannabiphorol (HHCP) is a trace cannabinoid of hemp. It is not clear whether HHCP has ever been naturally isolated, unlike its cousins THCP and CBDP. HHCP differs structurally from HHC due to its extended carbon tail. You’ll notice the same thing when you compare THCP to THC.
HHCP carts are by far the most common type of HHCP product, although you’ll also see tinctures and disposables on dealer websites. Cannabinoid blends are particularly prominent. Gummies, in particular, seem to exist only in this mixed form. Formulas include cannabinoids such as THCA, THCP and, of course, HHC.
The only research on HHCP is a 2023 paper that seeks to identify its stereoisomers, right next to HHC. Everything we know about the effects of HHCP comes from its chemical structure, our early understanding of THCP, and user accounts. It’s possible that HHCP shares qualities with THCP, but at the end of the day, the research to support it doesn’t exist.
As with THCP, HHCP is fixed with a seven-carbon chain. It exceeds the delta 9 THC and HHCs alkyl side chains by two carbon atoms very significant in the scope of weed chemistry. There is good evidence that a longer side chain means improved cannabinoid receptor binding affinity and, in turn, greater potency. Additionally, if the HHC lifts you up, the HHCP will likely lift you up even more.
However, all rules have their limitations. We do not know at what point the receptors become overloaded and the potency is limited. Even if you consume a very potent cannabinoid, the effects won’t necessarily match. There is more to learn about binding affinity in the endocannabinoid system, bodily effects, and the interplay between them.
Additionally, user accounts support the idea that HHCP is hitting hard. Most report that HHCP induces a strong, long-lasting high. There are conflicting claims about HHCP and sleep quality. Some say HHCP has helped them sleep better, while others find it makes them restless. If you tend to cry before bed, proceed with caution.
Do not consume large amounts of HHCP during the first session. You should indulge in any new cannabinoid, and this is especially important when the compound is strong. Start with a small dose and take it from there.
Benefits of HHCP and medical use
There is no evidence of medical benefits of HHCP. If they exist, we don’t currently know what they are or how effective they are. HHCP is virtually unexplored, and there is only so much we can extrapolate. It is possible that HHCP shares medicinal properties with HHC, but that is all we have to go on.
Several vendors claim that HHCP has anti-inflammatory or anxiolytic properties. But this claim appears to stem from a 2012 paper on hexahydrocurcumin, a substance also abbreviated to HHC. Hexahydrocurcumin is not a cannabinoid, and as far as we can tell, has nothing to do with hemp-derived HHC or HHCP. It is actually a metabolite of curcumin, which is found in turmeric and is completely unrelated to cannabis.
There are no safety studies of HHCP, but at the same time there are no indications that it is dangerous. Further investigation is needed to uncover potential risks.
Regardless, don’t run out and buy the first HHCP cart you spot at your local smoke shop. Hemp-based products are not regulated, and skepticism is justified. There are no third-party testing requirements, although all reputable brands will take it upon themselves.
HHCP is legal for all the same reasons as HHC. As long as the HHCP vape product or edible contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC, it is allowed to be distributed as hemp in the United States. However, states may enact their own policies around hemp or specific cannabinoids.
HHC-O-acetate (HHC-O or HHCO) is the acetate ester of HHC. From what we know about THC-O and its production, we can assume that HHC-O is synthesized from HHC via acetic anhydride.
Unlike HHC and HHCP, HHC-O may not exist naturally in hemp. Direct extraction is probably not possible in any capacity. As we saw with THC-O, this could put HHC-O in a tricky legal situation. The 2018 Farm Bill protects only naturally occurring hemp cannabinoids. Man-made synthetic substances are not given the same freedom.
Legalities aside, there are some valid safety concerns about acetates. Thermal degradation affects compounds differently, and in the case of HHC-Os, there is a very real possibility that it produces a ketene. This poisonous gas has been linked to serious, long-term lung damage.
Before we get into the details, let’s be clear: you probably shouldn’t be using HHC-O, no matter how good the effects sound. Inhaling ketene can cause serious lung damage.
Adding an acetate group can enhance the effects of psychoactive cannabis. HHC-O appears to be more powerful than regular HHC, perhaps by a large margin. This spike in potency was also the main attraction of THC-O. Since the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) now considers THC-O a Schedule I controlled substance, HHC-O seems like an obvious alternative.
The full spectrum of HHC-Os effects is unclear, but we can get a rough idea from THC-O and user anecdotes. Both HHC-O and THC-O are capable of producing a psychedelic high. Many users confirm this, also emphasizing the intensity of HHC-Os. Regular HHC generally does not produce psychedelic effects.
We don’t recommend pairing with HHC-O, but start slowly if using edibles. New users should start with no more than half a rubber, maybe even a quarter or less, before signing up with their body. Adjust your dose as desired.
Benefits of HHC-O and medical use
There are virtually no studies on HHC-O, and we cannot say whether such research will be forthcoming. Take everything you read online with a grain of salt.
Not too many health claims are made by sellers, but some report that HHC-O reduces nausea or pain. The origin of this is uncertain. Most likely, it is a general claim that applies to several other cannabinoids, so the sellers apply to HHC-O.
HHC-O safety and legality
There are no laws regulating or prohibiting the sale of HHC-O carts and edible sets. Because it does not appear to occur naturally in hemp, HHC-O may not meet the standards set by the Farm Bill. Legal or not, avoid pairing HHC-O or the acetate form of any cannabis compound.
We need more research to confirm exactly how dangerous HHC-O is when it comes into contact with heat, but there is good reason to be concerned. Thermal degradation of acetate can lead to ketene formation. This lung toxicant was a major player in the EVALI 2019 outbreak.
The vitamin E acetate filler has been converted into the same gaseous substance. Vitamin E Acetate is an additive used by unreliable cannabis oil manufacturers who want to reduce production costs at the expense of quality and user health. It has been widely dismissed by the vaping community, as well as researchers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you’re still interested in trying HHC-O, stick to chewing gum. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on the developing legal situation. It’s possible that HHC-O will follow the same path as THC-O, especially if it gets more attention.
HHC vs. HHCP vs. HHC-O: Summary
Most users agree that HHC is the least intense of the three, being slightly less than delta 9.
A typical HHCP or HHC-O high is probably at least as high as delta 9 THC, maybe stronger. It’s not always fair to compare the type of high as unique, especially given the psychedelic characteristics of HHC-Os. High HHCP is more like HHC but lasts longer. Of the three cannabinoids, HHC is the only one with published research supporting its benefits, but none on its recreational effects.
Structurally, there are key differences that affect both effects and safety. The long carbon tail of the HHCP helps with potency and seems to enhance the hit. The addition of an acetate group also increases the potency of HHC-Os, but also raises safety concerns. HHC-O should only be consumed in edible form, as thermal degradation can cause ketene production in the vape.
HHC occurs naturally in hemp and was first isolated decades ago. It is possible that small amounts of HHCP exist in hemp; chemists have already isolated THCP and CBDP. HHC-O, however, is most likely synthetic.
Finally, do not bring in any HHC, HHC-O, or HHCP products without a clean bill of safety. Visit the manufacturer’s website for test results and verify that they are correct. You can also ask a store representative for more information. Without rigorous testing, there is no guarantee of the actual cannabinoid content of the product or the absence of fillers.
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