Ever since hemp was legalized on a federal level, new hemp-related products have popped up on the market daily. You can make a vegan protein shake with hemp milk and hemp protein powder. 

You can brew a hemp cappuccino infused with a relaxing kick of CBD. You can drink it while wearing your sweater made of sustainable hemp fibers. 

Hemp is everywhere, but it isn’t done offering surprises yet — HHC is one of the most recent hemp surprises to hit the market. 

You may be familiar with the magic of CBD, but HHC might remain a mystery to you. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between HHC and CBD.

What Is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid. It occurs in cannabis plants but most commonly comes from hemp plants. 

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It doesn’t work to change the way you think or cloud your judgment. It won’t get you high. It works with the cannabinoid receptors throughout your mind and body to support general wellness.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

CBD plays a role in your body’s endocannabinoid system, a bunch of receptors just about everywhere. You have these receptors in your brain, central nervous system, organs, and immune system. These receptors respond to the influence of cannabinoids like CBD.

What Are the Effects of CBD?

Your body’s endocannabinoid system provides broad wellness support to many body functions. That’s why CBD is often touted for a laundry list of benefits. You’re likely to experience a gentle widespread boost to how you feel when you use CBD because it supports your body in its efforts to do many things.

Many people enjoy CBD’s naturally soothing properties after a hard workout. CBD can work to support your body’s stress management system. It can also help to relax you at bedtime, supporting a good night’s sleep.

What Is HHC?

HHC is hexahydrocannabinol. HHC doesn’t occur naturally in the cannabis plant. It was first produced by a cannabinoid scientist experimenting with delta-9-THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid of the cannabis plant. Roger Adams used a process called hydrogenation to add a hydrogen molecule to delta-9-THC. 

This extra hydrogen molecule changes the way that delta-9-THC works. It makes it less effective at producing effects than delta-9-THC. It’s a lot like watering the THC down. 

If you love THC, this might sound like a travesty. If you wish THC wasn’t so heavy-handed, you’ll probably like HHC.

What Is Hydrogenation?

Hydrogenation is adding hydrogen to something, which changes its structure. This process is commonly used to create food products. 

Hydrogenating vegetable oil turns it into margarine. Hydrogenation also makes things like coffee creamer, vegetable shortening, and butter flavoring in microwave popcorn.

What Are the Effects of HHC?

HHC’s effects are commonly compared to the effects of delta-8-THC. Delta-8-THC is a weaker version of delta-9-THC, the most powerful psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. 

HHC is very mildly psychoactive. It isn’t incapacitating, but it will produce a gentle buzz. If you’re looking for the mildest way to enjoy the effects of cannabis, you’ll probably find that HHC perfectly fits the bill.

Is HHC Legal?

HHC’s legality sits in a gray area. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% delta-9-THC by their dry weight. HHC doesn’t naturally occur within the cannabis plant. It has to be made from other cannabinoids.

If HHC is made from hemp, it’s a hemp byproduct. Therefore, it’s technically legal to buy and use on a federal level. There is no federal law specifically forbidding HHC.

There are a few states that have specific laws surrounding HHC. If you live in one of the following states, you may not be able to buy or use HHC products. 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Washington

Is CBD Legal?

CBD is technically legal on a federal level. Every state permits CBD, but some states have laws regarding the types of CBD people can buy and use. A few states only allow CBD that doesn’t contain any detectable amounts of THC. 

Full-spectrum CBD contains everything the hemp plant contains, including the small amount of naturally occurring THC. Full-spectrum CBD is legal in almost every state. Check your local laws to see if there are restrictions where you live. 

CBD made from hemp processed to remove THC is called broad-spectrum CBD. CBD that has been isolated from all the other naturally occurring compounds in the hemp plant is CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are legal in most states. 

HHC vs. CBD

HHC and CBD aren’t much alike. CBD’s purpose is to provide holistic wellness support and relaxation benefits without altering your mental state. HHC is the opposite. The purpose of HHC is to give you a mild, gentle buzz. 

HHC and CBD have benefits, but you need to consider them in completely different contexts. CBD is a wellness cannabinoid, and HHC is a recreational cannabinoid. You may find that HHC’s mildly psychoactive properties can help to promote relief, which is an excellent case for using CBD and HHC together.

Some people like to use HHC as a social cannabinoid. If you don’t consume alcohol or don’t like the strong effects of conventional cannabis, HHC is a milder alternative that will allow you to let loose just a little rather than go all out.

Can You Use HHC and CBD Together?

You can use CBD and HHC together; many people do. If you enjoy the relieving benefits of CBD and want to take things a step further, a little bit of HHC can up the ante. HHC and CBD won’t amplify each other’s effects or interact negatively. They’ll peacefully coexist.

HHC vs. THC

THC can cause significant mind-altering effects, even in relatively small amounts. HHC is much weaker. Weaker doesn’t necessarily translate to “not as good.” 

Many people find that THC is too intense for them. They don’t like the way it makes them feel. They find the psychoactive effects of THC to be overwhelming.

Think of HHC as a compromise. While HHC can technically get you “high,” it’s more of a second-story balcony type of high. THC will put you on the roof of the building. 

HHC is an alternative to THC. Its effects are reminiscent of what many people feel when THC wears off. It’s a much softer experience. 

Because HHC is significantly less potent, the experience is easier to manage. You might feel more capable of engaging in light activities, like playing an instrument or enjoying a video game. 

HHC vs. Delta 8 

People who prefer the gentle elevating experience from hemp-derived cannabinoids turn to delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC is delta-9 THC’s little brother. He’s nowhere near as strong, but it’s evident that they’re related. 

Experience is always subjective. It’s hard to compare two things that can affect people very differently. You can only use popular opinion to get a good idea of what you can expect. 

Many people say that delta-8 THC feels half as potent as delta-9 THC. Many of the same people say that HHC is like half of delta-8 THC. This makes it incrementally more gentle than delta-9 THC.

Does HHC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Drug tests look for a metabolite of THC called 11-hydroxy-THC. That happens when your body converts the THC into a form it can use and purge. It stores the metabolite in body fat and expels it through the urine.


There is no definitive evidence to suggest that HHC is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC but the liver, but there is no definitive evidence that it can’t happen. The short answer is that it’s unlikely that HHC will show up on a drug test, but it’s not impossible.

If you can’t use products that contain THC, it’s best to treat HHC the same way. It’s not worth the buzz if it can create consequences that might complicate your life. 

Should I Use HHC or CBD?

HHC vs. CBD is not an “either/or” choice because they don’t do the same thing. They’re two vastly different experiences. You should choose the cannabinoid that supports the benefits you’re looking to experience. 

If you’re new to cannabinoids and trying to decide which cannabinoid to use first, it’s best to start with CBD. CBD is an easy-riding welcome wagon that won’t radically change your thinking or feeling. 

It’s a great introduction to cannabinoids because it’s so approachable and user-friendly. It’s extremely unlikely that you’d have a negative experience with a modest amount of CBD.

If you’ve already tried CBD and want something that will make your mind feel a little more elevated, HHC is a good next step. 

What Is CBD Used For?

  • Post-workout recovery
  • Easing feelings of overwhelm
  • Supporting the body’s stress management system
  • Helping to support restful sleep

What Is HHC Used For?

  • Mild recreation
  • Enhancing creativity
  • Heightening your experience

Pure Relief HHC + D9 Blend Gummies

Pure Relief’s hemp-derived HHC and delta-9 gummies contain 20 mg of elevating relief per piece. You only need one gummy to get you where you need to go. 

We've got you covered if you’re looking to reach new heights that CBD can’t deliver you to.

 

Sources:

An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system - National Library of Medicine

Hexahydrocannabinol | C21H32O2 - PubChem

Hydrogenation Mechanism | American Oil Chemists' Society

Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill - 07/25/2019 | FDA

September 20, 2022