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What is HHC-O?

We know. A new combo of random letters is constantly being thrown at you at any given time regarding the latest and greatest cannabinoids to hit the market. It can start to feel like a confusing bowl of alphabet soup! THCa, THCjd, CBG, CBN, D8, D9 (ooh, numbers too!)… Things can feel a little perplexing or overwhelming. The fact of the matter is, we are eager to share cannabis knowledge, because each cannabinoid is unique unto itself and can offer such varying benefits and experiences. So bear with us while we (perhaps too excitedly) share with you what we know about up and coming cannabinoids. 

Allow us to introduce a promising new hemp-derived compound: HHC-O. HHC-O is still fairly mysterious to scientists when it comes to labs and tests performed for research purposes. There just aren’t many formal HHC-O studies, yet. 

HHC-O is similar to its precursor, the HHC (hexahydrocannabinol) cannabinoid. HHC is a hydrogenated version of THC. This means it contains more hydrogen atoms than THC, giving it a longer shelf life. The hydrogenation process puts HHC in the semi-synthetic category of cannabis compounds. HHC has longer lasting effects than THC, intriguing scientists (and stoners) alike. HHC is in fact naturally present in the hemp plant – but in very low concentrations. 

So what’s with the “O” addition? HHC-O is an updated version of HHC. Just like THC vs. THC-O, a chemical compound called acetic anhydride (acetate) is added to the original HHC cannabinoid. Much to the happiness of cannabis enthusiasts, this addition changes the molecular makeup in a way that allows for more psychoactive potency by helping the molecule bind more effectively to the body’s cannabinoid receptors. (Click here to learn more about the endocannabinoid system, present in the anatomy of all animals.) In other words, you get way “higher”! This chemical update allows for HHC-O to be up to 1.5x more potent than regular HHC. 

Things That Make You Feel Good: HHC-O Benefits

HHC-O is known for its high potency, outranking other hemp-derived cannabinoids such as HHC and Delta 9 THC. Since HHC-O research is limited, the information about effects and benefits are anecdotal, with feedback and reviews coming firsthand from HHC-O experimenters themselves. Folks that have tried HHC-O observed the following benefits that include but aren’t limited to:

  • Mental and physical relaxation
  • Stress and Anxiety relief
  • Pain relief
  • Insomnia relief
  • Deeper sleep 
  • Strong sensations of both body highs and head highs
  • Calm mental state
  • Mood elevation
  • Increase in appetite
  • Nausea relief 

Just like with other cannabinoids, some people have experienced less pleasant side effects from HHC-O. The side effects mentioned include dry mouth, headaches, and the feeling of being “too high”. Often cannabis side effects arise when too much of the compound is consumed, that’s why it’s always a good idea to begin with a low dose and slowly work your way up to finding your preferred amount. 

The effects of HHC-O vary depending on which strain (cultivar) the compounds are derived from. Unfortunately due to lack of formal research, we are unable to link or reference any studies exploring the non-psychoactive effects of HHC-O. 

FAQs

Why is HHC considered semi-synthetic?

This is because of the hydrogenation process involved in transforming HHC to HHC-O. HHC is a hydrogenated version of the naturally-occurring THC compound. This means it contains more hydrogen atoms than THC, in turn making it more bioavailable and potent.

What is the difference between HHC and HHC-O?

HHC-O is HHC with added acetate (acetic anhydride). This addition makes HHC-O more potent and shelf-stable. HHC-O can be up to 1.5x more potent than regular HHC.

What are some benefits of HHC-O?

Anecdotal evidence shows that HHC-O can help with pain relief, mood elevation, insomnia, anxiety and depression relief, stimulating appetite and relieving nausea. HHC-O is known to provide both body and head highs.

What are some HHC-O side effects?

Anecdotal evidence shows that HHC-O can cause dry mouth, headaches and the feeling of being “too high”. These results often happen when too much of a compound is consumed in one sitting.

Is HHC-O legal?

HHC-O is a hemp derived, semi-synthetic compound. Because it comes from hemp and contains less than 0.3 % THC, it is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Legality of hemp products vary by state, and HHC-O is legal statewide in 41 different states.

In 2018, the US government passed the 2018 Farm Bill. This updated the status of all hemp-derived products, making it federally legal to produce, distribute, purchase and administer the products as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC. Therefore, despite HHC-O having apparent psychoactive properties, it is federally legal to purchase and consume HHC-O products. On a state level, HHC-O is currently legal in 41 different states. State laws can change seemingly overnight and often for no apparent good reason. It’s a good idea to research your own state’s legislation to see if you can purchase and use HHC-O  locally. 

When it comes to drug tests, keep in mind that HHC-O may affect the results of a test. THC compounds such as Delta-8, Delta-9 and THCp are metabolized by an enzyme called THC-COOH. This enzyme is what urine tests are looking for. Since we don’t know if HHC-O is processed by this enzyme, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Consider abstaining from experimenting if you have an upcoming drug test, until more is known about HHC-O actions within the body.  

How to Experience HHC-O 

You can experience HHC-O in a number of ways including edibles and smokables, such as dabs, vape pens, and vape carts.

Vapes and dabs are popular product types and increasingly common for a few reasons. Firstly, less carcinogens are inhaled when vaporizing cannabis, making it safer and healthier than smoking cannabis flower. There is less of a smell, making it more inconspicuous. Many people love the sharpened taste of terpenes that is a result of much lower temperatures involved in vaporizing/dabbing vs. smoking. And, the high is often stronger, as a higher percentage of cannabinoids are converted into vapor as opposed to smoking. As for vaping, it is convenient. Vape pens are small, odorless and easy to operate. 

With vaping it’s easy to control dosage. The best way to begin experimenting with a new cannabinoid in vape form is to start with one puff off the vape pen. Wait a moment, and enjoy the flavor. If you are feeling like you want to increase the sensations, take another puff or two. Go slowly. It’s always possible to consume more, however it’s impossible to back track if you have taken too much and start to feel uncomfortable. Only you know your body and mind so it’s up to you alone to monitor consumption and the accompanying results. 

As HHC-O gains exposure and popularity, it is likely that the cannabinoid will be offered in other forms, such as flower and tinctures. All hydrogenated cannabis compounds can be easily converted into the above product types, and it’s only a matter of time before we start to see a more diverse range of products become available. 

All Things Considered

As we always say when introducing a new cannabinoid or product, start with a small dose. This is to ensure that you don’t accidentally take too much and end up experiencing uncomfortable side effects. A great way to keep track of your experiences is to keep a cannabis journal. This way you can record doses, results and your own individual preferences. 
Trying a new cannabis product (especially a lesser-known one), can sometimes feel daunting or apprehension-inducing. This is why here at The Green Dragon CBD, we make it our mission to help you to feel more comfortable and confident in your journey towards reaping cannabis benefits. We educate our staff so that they can expertly answer your cannabis-related questions, and guide you towards suitable products for your individual needs. In fact, we are passionate about all things cannabis! Contact us here with any cannabis-related inquiries.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, JEN OLSON

Jennifer Olson is a copywriter  with a deep knowledge of the cannabis industry. She was born and raised on an island in BC, Canada and currently resides in the Slocan Valley, BC. She is passionate about science and research and could potentially bore you with talk of mycelium, neurochemicals, you name it. Connect with her on Instagram or read other posts by Jen.

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