Powered by Smartsupp

What is HHCH, what are its effects and risks?

What is HHCH and how is it produced?

HHCH stands for hexahydrocannabichlorohexol. It is not found in the cannabis plant, unlike many other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, CBG and THC, which are naturally occurring in the plant.

It was first synthesised in 1942 by the American chemist Roger Adams, who suggested in a study that HHCH was more potent than the pentyl and heptyl homologues or unsaturated analogue of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). 

HHCH is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derivative that requires professional laboratory production. It is formed by hydrogenation of a THCH (tetrahydrocannabinol) distillate and its transformation into HHCH.

This compound takes the form of a thick oil which is highly viscous. It is more ductile when slightly heated, and changes colour on oxidation without impairing its effectiveness or causing any chemical transformation. 


 

HHCH and its effects


Chemical structure and stereoisomers

HHCH has the molecular formula C22H34O2. And because it is a hydrogenated compound, like H4CBD and HHC, it consists of 2 different stereoisomers, i.e. molecules:

  • 9(R)-hexahydrocanabihexol, also 9β-hexahydrocanabihexol, 9β-HHCH, 9(R)-HHCH
  • 9(S)-hexahydrocannabishexol, also 9α-hexahydrocannabishexol, 9α-HHCH, 9(S)-HHCH

The molecule (9R) binds very effectively to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), producing a psychoactive effect, while 9(S) is referred to as the inactive component.

For this, let's cite a 2023 study that looked at the cannabinoid HHC and concluded that the 9(R) isomer binds with higher affinity to CB1 (nervous system, in the brain) and CB2 (in the immune system, the digestive tract and other organs) and that the activity of 9(R) is almost identical to that of THC, whereas 9(S) binds strongly in cannabinoid receptor studies but shows reduced activity in functional assays. 

Effects

HHCH is thought to have psychoactive effects that are similar to THC. The effects are reported to be milder than those of HHCP, but longer lasting compared to HHC.

There is also information that it is estimated to be 10 to 15 times more potent than THC and that it is slightly superior to THCH in its effects. Since Roger Adams has already suggested in his study that HHCP is more potent than the pentyl and heptyl homologue or unsaturated analogue of THC, it can be assumed that HHCH exerts a strong psychoactive effect on the body. However, new relevant research is needed to draw any conclusions.

Like other cannabinoids, HHCH interacts with the ECS in the body. Initial findings suggest that HHCH has a higher affinity for CB1 receptors and therefore has a psychoactive effect, and also interacts with CB2 receptors, which contribute to modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. The effects will also depend on the composition of the product, or the ratio of 9(R) to 9(S) isomers in the product.

Similar to other cannabinoids with psychoactive properties, HHCH can be expected to affect perception, induce feelings of euphoria or relaxation and alleviate symptoms of pain and inflammation.

It should be stressed that the effects of HHCH can last from 2 to 8 hours, so it is important to use it responsibly and in moderation. Under no circumstances is it recommended to drive or operate any machinery after taking it.

Risks

There is scientific consensus that natural cannabinoids are safe for medical and recreational use, whereas synthetic cannabinoids often cannot be proven to be pure and safe.

Unknown substances such as unnatural isomers, residual solvents and other unrecognised compounds have been found in some synthetically produced products, making them potentially unsafe for human consumption. 

Synthetic cannabinoids are artificially created cannabinoids. The legal definition is: 'any material, compound, mixture or preparation containing a substance and having a similar effect to a natural cannabinoid and produced artificially'.

Examples of (semi-)synthetic cannabinoids include HHC, THCB, THCO, THCP, THCH, THCJD, among others. 

These compounds can be much more potent than natural cannabinoids and this increases the potential risk of overdose and intoxication. In general, the risks of using synthetic cannabinoids can include negative psychological effects that include panic, paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Increased heart rate.
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Redness of the eyes

At the present time, it is possible that other as yet undetected side effects may occur. The intensity of side effects will depend on several factors such as health status, age, body proportions, metabolism, tolerance of the user as well as dose and method of consumption.

Are products with HHCH safe?

As research and development of HHCH is only in its early stages, this highlights the need for thorough, controlled and peer-reviewed research to evaluate the effects, safety profile and potential medical uses.

At the moment, it can be quite challenging to know what the real cannabinoid content of unlicensed products is. In addition, unless a retailer provides third-party laboratory test analysis, it is impossible to detect whether products are free of undesirable substances such as pesticides, solvents and heavy metals.

This issue is also linked to the complex legislation on cannabinoids across the world. It is not easy to assess the safety of products when most countries currently have no laws regulating these substances, including the Czech Republic. This means that there is a lack of legislation to ensure safety, quality and legality. 

If you will be purchasing any products containing cannabinoids, always keep an eye on the following information:

  • Lab results: third-party lab reports provide objective data on product purity, regulatory compliance (maximum THC limit), safety, and more.
  • Ingredients: Make sure the product is free of inappropriate additives, fillers and toxins.
  • Source of cannabis: The best source is the freshest, locally grown cannabis that is free of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Company Reputation: Find out about the manufacturer/vendor. An established and trustworthy company that has been in the cannabis market for a few years and has had positive feedback on their products and services.


 

What are the risks of HHCH


Legal status of HHCH

Although marijuana remains illegal in many parts of the world and has been stigmatized for decades, the US Farm Bill removed cannabis (with up to 0.3% THC) from the list of controlled substances, thus legalizing all cannabis derivatives.

This made the cultivation, processing and sale of cannabis products a legal activity, but some states may have stricter rules on the sale and use of these products.

Legislation on cannabinoids derived from cannabis can change rapidly, as we have seen in the Czech Republic, where HHC, HHCO and THCP were temporarily banned at the beginning of March.

HHC is legal under the farm bill, but can be expected to fall into a legal grey area due to its psychoactive properties. 

Conclusion

HHCH is a semi-synthetic derivative of a cannabinoid synthesised by Roger Adams in 1942. The production requires only a professional laboratory procedure, HHCH is produced by hydrogenating THCH distillate and converting it into HHCH.

It is composed of 2 stereoisomers, 9(R) and 9(S), and the ratio of these molecules affects the potency and strength of the product.

Like other psychoactive cannabinoids, it can affect perception or induce feelings of euphoria or relaxation.

The cannabis market already offers HHCH vape pens, cartridges and liquids for vaporisation, oils, distillates, flower and hash. Users should approach HHCH products with caution and consider all risks before purchasing. There are currently no scientific studies to assess the safety of this substance. 

Compounds of this type can be far more potent than natural cannabinoids, increasing the potential risk of overdose and intoxication.

When purchasing any cannabis products, always choose trusted and vetted companies that have their products tested by an independent laboratory.

 

Original text: Patricie Mikolášová, translation by AI

 

 

Photo: Shutterstock

"All information provided on this website, as well as the information provided through this website, is for educational purposes only. None of the information contained herein is intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis and such information is not to be considered medical advice or recommended treatment. This website does not promote, endorse or advocate the legal or illegal use of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or the commission of any other illegal activity. Please see our Disclaimer for further information."