HHC vs. THC: What’s the Difference? Which is Best?

Brie Lowrey

If THC is king, HHC is its lesser-known little sibling. You likely haven’t heard of HHC, but this cannabinoid is rising as an accessible THC alternative. This sparks an important question: which is best? The HHC vs. THC debate doesn’t have an easy answer. The best cannabinoid for you depends on your preferences and needs. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two and how you can choose the right option.

What is HHC, Exactly?

Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, is a hydrogenated derivative of THC. In other words, it’s a molecule derived from THC with a similar chemical structure. Cannabis plants contain dozens of compounds known as cannabinoids. Some of them, known as phytocannabinoids, naturally occur in plants. Others, often called synthetic cannabinoids, are created artificially by manipulating common cannabinoids like CBD.

That’s where HHC comes into the equation. One study found that HHC can be found in trace amounts in Cannabis sativa plants but at very low levels. Most HHC you see on the market is created in a lab; getting enough HHC straight from the plant would simply be impossible. The first HHC synthesis occurred in 1947 when Roger Adams created it using delta-9 THC. Today, HHC has entered the legal cannabis market, as have HHC-based compounds like HHC-P.

How HHC Differs from THC

Chemically speaking, there’s little competition in the HHC vs. THC conversation. HHC’s structure is very similar to that of THC. The key difference is hydrogen. HHC has more hydrogen than THC, and it also doesn’t have any double bonds in the cyclohexyl ring. 

But what does this actually mean? Since these two cannabinoids are more similar than not, it’s fair to say they probably affect the body similarly. But unlike THC, which is federally illegal due to its status as a controlled substance, hemp-derived HHC is legal. 

HHC Effects & Benefits

Anecdotal evidence tells us that HHC works much like THC but with less intensity. It’s generally more comparable to something like delta-8 THC. Like delta-8, HHC seems to deliver milder effects than traditional delta-9 THC. Unfortunately, there’s currently no peer-reviewed research exploring how HHC compares to THC. What we do know, though, is how THC gets the job done. We can use this knowledge to understand how HHC might benefit users over time.

Like other cannabinoids, HHC works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. This complex network regulates key bodily functions like appetite, sleep, mood, memory, and more. By binding with endocannabinoid receptors, cannabinoids like HHC influence your brain and central nervous system. HHC, in particular, binds to CB1 receptors, which mostly are located in your central nervous system.

Once it does, it can cause effects like:

  • Lowered levels of pain
  • Euphoria
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better sleep
  • Less nausea or a better appetite
  • Lessened anxiety or depression symptoms 

Again, it’s hard to say for sure how HHC can benefit you, if at all. One 2007 paper did note that HHC had powerful pain-relieving qualities in mice, but we’re still leaps and bounds away from being able to draw this conclusion for humans. 

HHC Side Effects

We don’t really have any solid research that confirms HHC is safe to use, particularly over time. The side effects of HHC are also generally unknown. How you consume the cannabinoid may affect what you experience, though; vaping may cause lung irritation, for instance, and edibles might be more likely to cause nausea or diarrhea.

However, it’s fair to assume that HHC’s side effects line up with THC’s side effects, including:

  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Memory loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Red eyes
  • Fatigue and drowsiness

What’s unclear is how many of these side effects HHC might cause and to what extent. As always, it’s best to use new products with caution. 

What is THC?

THC, also known as delta-9 THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is cannabis’s main psychoactive compound. It’s also one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the plant. We can thank THC for the classic “high” we associate with marijuana. 

THC falls under the umbrella of phytocannabinoids since it comes directly from cannabis plants. Like HHC, it works by binding to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, specifically the CB1 and CB2 receptors. That means it affects the nervous system and the brain.

THC Effects & Benefits

Decades of experience and information have given us a pretty solid understanding of THC’s potential benefits. Of course, any cannabinoid can impact each individual who consumes it differently. But in general, you can expect to reap benefits like:

  • Increased sensory perception
  • A strong sense of euphoria
  • Relaxation and lowered stress levels
  • Increased appetite
  • Better sleep

THC Side Effects

You can expect THC side effects to closely mirror HHC side effects. But since THC seems to be stronger than HHC, you might be more likely to experience adverse side effects such as:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Lung irritation
  • Hallucinations
  • Dry mouth, red eyes

Does HHC Get You High? What Science Tells Us

The quick and easy answer is yes, HHC can get you high. This statement is based on anecdotal evidence, though. There’s little research about how HHC affects the body and brain. Since most users report HHC creates a mellow experience, similar to delta-8 THC, it might not be the best pick if you’re looking to get high fast and consistently. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About HHC

Still have questions about HHC? We’ve got answers.

Will HHC show up on a drug test?

Simply put, we’re not quite sure. It’s possible that HHC won’t metabolize into 11-hydroxy-THC, the substance that most drug panels test for. However, there are no studies exploring how HHC breaks down in the body. Especially if you plan to use HHC regularly, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. If regular drug tests are part of your life, HHC might not be for you.

Is HHC legal in all states?

There’s a bit of a gray area here: if HHC is produced from hemp, it’s technically considered legal by the 2018 Farm Bill. That’s because The Farm Bill made hemp legal at the federal level so long as it has 0.3% or less THC by dry weight. The real debate, then, is whether HHC is a synthetic cannabinoid – made in a lab – or a naturally occurring cannabinoid derived from hemp.

Many state laws still restrict the use of synthetic cannabinoids, but again, it all depends on how HHC is defined. As of right now, HHC is not banned by name on a federal level. But it’s smart to pay attention to cannabis laws in your state, which may restrict HHC and other cannabinoids now or in the future.

How is HHC produced?

Most of the HHC on the market comes from hemp-derived CBD extract. The first step is cyclization into a delta-8 or delta-9 THC mixture. In other words, manufacturers transform CBD molecules into THC. From there, they use catalytic hydrogenation to create a mixture containing HHC. It’s also possible to locate HHC in cannabis plants, but not in high enough amounts to make this method worthwhile.

THC vs. HHC: Which is Best for You?

How can you settle the great THC vs. HHC debate when all is said and done? It all comes down to your preferences. 




  • Euphoria
  • Better mood
  • Better sleep
  • Increased appetite
  • Relief from pain and anxiety
  • Body and head high
  • Easy to access in multiple forms
  • Illegal at the federal level
  • Strong enough to cause side effects for some


  • Pain management
  • May help lower anxiety
  • May promote better sleep
  • May stimulate appetite
  • Legal at the federal level
  • Little to no research exploring its effects
  • May be weaker than THC
  • Can be harder to find

If you want to experience the benefits of THC, it might not hurt to give HHC a try. But if you already love options like delta-8 THC, you’ll probably find that HHC isn’t all that different. Likewise, seasoned delta-9 THC fans might find that HHC isn’t as strong as they’d like. It’s all up to you!

Where to Buy HHC Products

Since it’s up to the consumer to screen products and protect their health, it’s important to only opt for quality products when buying HHC. Look for HHC products from reputable companies with a record of producing safe and high-quality products. Products tested by a third party come with a certificate of analysis that you can use to see what you’re putting into your body.

You can count on The Green Dragon CBD to deliver quality products you can trust. We’re your one-stop shop for all things HHC, THC, CBD, and more. From HHC gummies to HHC vapes, we’ve got what you need to explore HHC yourself. 

We encourage you to reach out for a free consultation to learn more about our products and whether HHC might be for you!

HHC vs. THC: What’s the Difference? Which is Best?
Maybe you haven’t heard of HHC, but this cannabinoid is rising as a THC alternative. Let’s take a closer look at the differences and how to choose between them.
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HHC vs. THC: What’s the Difference? Which is Best?
October 16, 2023
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