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Do you know what HHCH is and what its origin is?


What is HHCH and what is its origin?

Hexahydrocannabihexol, abbreviated HHCH, is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derivative that is produced in the laboratory. However, unlike other minor cannabinoids, which are mostly also (semi-)synthetically produced, such as HHC, THCB, THCP, THCH or THCJD, it is not found in cannabis even in trace amounts.

The HHCH compound takes the form of a thick oil with a high viscosity. It is formed by the hydrogenation of tetrahydrocannabishexol (THCH) distillate and its transformation to HHCH. If slightly heated, it becomes more malleable, and during oxidation, colour changes occur which do not impair potency or lead to any chemical transformation.

The molecular formula of HHCH is C22H34O2. Since this substance is formed by hydrogenation, it consists of 2 different stereoisomers, i.e. 9(R)-HHCH and 9(S)-HHCH molecules, similar to HHC and H4CBD.

The isomer 9(R) binds very effectively to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), causing a psychoactive effect, whereas 9(S) is considered to be the inactive component, as evidenced by a 2023 study on HHC.

And if you've heard that HHCH is a brand new compound, you may be surprised to learn that it was first synthesised in 1942 by American chemist Roger Adams, who stated in his scientific study that HHCH was more potent than its pentyl and heptyl homologue or unsaturated analogue tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


A hand wearing a rubber glove shows a glass flask of cannabis distillate


Since Roger Adams indicated in his study that it is a potent substance, it can be assumed that HHCH exerts a significant psychoactive effect on the body. There are also suggestions that it is roughly 10-15 times stronger than THC and that it slightly outperforms THC in its effects. However, research is not yet available to confirm this information.

HHCH is generally reported to have psychoactive effects comparable to THC. Compared to HHCP, it shows slightly weaker effects and has a longer duration of action compared to HHC. The effects of HHCH can last for 2-8 hours.

Most of the effects of cannabinoids depend on how they interact with the ECS in the body. The cannabinoid HHCH, like other cannabinoids, interacts with this system, and early information suggests that it binds more effectively to CB1 receptors, which are found in the central nervous system, in the brain, and also interacts with CB2 receptors, which are found in the immune system, the digestive tract and other organs.

And since it is a hydrogenated compound, the composition of the product, i.e. the ratio of 9(R)-HHCH to 9(S)-HHCH molecules, affects the efficiency. If the product is dominated by the 9(R)-HCH isomer, the product will be more effective, a 1:1 molecule ratio is also commonly used.

Like other psychoactive cannabinoids, it can affect perception, induce feelings of euphoria or relaxation, and relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation.

HHCH is definitely not recommended for newcomers to the world of cannabis, it is only suitable for experienced users as it is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid which is generally agreed to be more potent than natural cannabinoids. In any case, it is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery after use.

Side effects of HHCH and other pitfalls

Keep in mind that (semi)synthetic compounds can be much more potent than natural cannabinoids, which multiplies the potential risk of intoxication and overdose, which can lead to a bad trip. Negative psychological effects such as paranoia, anxiety, panic and hallucinations can occur.

 Possible other side effects:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea (vomiting)

 At this time, it cannot be excluded that other as yet undetected side effects may occur.

Experts see an additional pitfall with these (semi-)synthetic compounds in that the purity and safety of the products often cannot be proven. As a result, unknown substances (residual solvents, unnatural isomers and other unrecognised compounds) may appear in synthetically produced products, making them potentially dangerous for human consumption.

Whatever cannabis product you decide to buy, always demand a lab analysis, read the product ingredients and choose reputable companies that have been in the cannabis market for a few years and are transparent.

Third-party lab reports provide objective data on product purity, regulatory compliance such as THC limits, safety and more. Make sure the product is free of inappropriate additives, fillers and toxins.


Test tube with HHCH oil and microscope

Conclusion: legality and available HHCH products

Hexahydrocannabihexol is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derivative that is formed by hydrogenation of THCH distillate and its transformation to HHCH. It is currently defined as legal under the so-called Farm Bill, a US agricultural law that excluded cannabis containing up to 0.3% THC from the list of controlled substances, thus "legalising" all cannabis derivatives. In the Czech Republic, the maximum limit is 1% THC in the dry matter. However, it is most likely to be in a legal grey area in some countries due to its psychoactive properties and may also face restrictions or prohibition.

HHCH products consist of 2 stereoisomers 9(R)-HHCH and 9(S)-HHCH, the ratio of these molecules affects the potency and strength of the product. HHCH vape pens and replaceable cartridges and liquids are available on the cannabis market, which are liquids designed for vaping, flower, hash, oils and spirits.

We only recommend products with HHCH for experienced users and they should always consider all possible risks before purchasing. There is currently no scientific research to evaluate the safety of this compound.

Remember that compounds of this type can be significantly more intense than natural cannabinoids, which of course increases the potential risk of overdose and intoxication.

And the advice at the end? Always request a laboratory analysis, focus on the product's composition to ensure it does not contain inappropriate ingredients, choose trusted and proven companies that test their products in an independent laboratory, and approach use responsibly and in moderation.


Original author: Patricie Mikolášová, translated by: AI



Photo: Shutterstock

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