The last few years have seen groundbreaking advancements in the hemp industry. CBD and THC used to be the only compounds cannabis was known for, but since the hemp’s federal legalization a few years back, many new compounds have come into play. From the relaxing delta 8 to the energizing delta 10 and even the unbelievably potent THCO, hemp has quickly evolved from its early days of being farmed by European settlers to a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Today, many of these advancements—and profits—come from novel psychoactive compounds like the ones mentioned above, but one of the newest additions to the family of hemp-derived cannabinoids is HHC-O, or HHC-O-acetate. But what exactly is this compound? How is it made, and what does it do for the human body?
What is HHC-O?
HHC-O, also known as HHC-O-acetate, is a derivate of another popular compound, HHC (hexahydrocannabinol). The cannabinoid is brand new, just recently starting to hit the market, so it’s possible you’ve never even heard of it before and happen to be here out of mere curiosity. In essence, HHC-O is the acetate version of HHC, a naturally occurring cannabinoid known as the hydrogenated from of THC. HHC’s hydrogenated nature makes it more chemically stable than delta 9 (THC) but remains similar in effects and properties.
HHC-O is perhaps most similar to THC-O, a compound that occurs when acetic anhydride is added to a psychoactive compound like delta 9 or delta 8. HHC-O takes a similar approach, substituting other tetrahydrocannabinols for HHC but still applying acetic anhydride to the compound. This boosts the cannabinoid’s potency by about 1.5x.
But why do this at all? The answer is simple. HHC’s hydrogenation process keeps delta 9’s effects virtually unchanged, but it causes a slight reduction in potency that results in HHC being around 70-80% as strong as delta 9. Applying acetic anhydride to HHC makes it a stronger version of itself, or in other words, HHC-O.
Psychoactive vs. Non-Psychoactive Properties of HHC-O
Psychoactively speaking, HHC/HHC-O and delta 9 produce almost identical effects because they are processed by the body’s endocannabinoid system in the same exact way. This means that both cannabinoids work with the same cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system that trigger intoxication. Making HHC-O boosts the potency of HHC, increasing the absorption rate so that the high is more similar to high-THC strains on the market. This gives HHC-O all of the effects and properties of HHC with a little more potency than regular THC.
HHC-O Benefits & Side Effects
While using HHC-O consumers report experiencing a relaxed, strong buzz complete with a potent head high and an intense body stone. Users say that the high starts with a relaxation of the muscles that puts your mind at ease. Then, the experience gets more intense.
You’ll begin to feel talkative and blissful, and once the high reaches its peak, your body will get sedated, and your mind will seem open to new senses and curious about new ideas. Even with this newfound euphoria, you’ll easily lose focus and retire into your own world, so you may want to just chill on the couch or in bed when using HHC-O.
All of this is just hearsay, however. Since HHC-O is extremely new, we don’t yet have enough research to fully understand its extended list of effects and benefits. That said, we can connect some dots on our own based on what we do know about similar cannabinoids.
Delta 9 has been renowned for its potential to soothe pain thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, according to a 2009 study on the compound’s ability to treat chronic central neuropathic pain. Another study on delta 9, published in the National Library of Medicine in 2015, found the compound effective for treating feelings of nausea and reducing instances of vomiting due to its antiemetic properties. Similarly, delta 9 and HHC have both been found to stimulate the appetite—the munchies are a well-recorded side effect for these compounds, after all! HHC has also been found to give users a sense of euphoria as well as a relaxed body and mind.
Again, research on HHC-O itself is not sufficient to concretely determine its exact properties and benefits, but from what we know about similar cannabinoids, we can safely assume that HHC-O can potentially help with:
- Pain relief
- Nausea and vomiting relief
- Increased appetite
- Mood boosts
The same can be said for side effects. Clinical studies on HHC-O are scarce, to say the least, so we don’t really know the exact adverse reactions some may have from ingesting the compound. The good news is, based on what we know about similar substances, HHC-O is very unlikely to come with any serious side effects. Generally speaking, hemp-derived compounds don’t cause any serious harm because they are non-toxic in nature.
That said, taking too much HHC-O can still result in the usual discomforts associated with eating too many edibles or smoking a blunt that’s a little too fat for your tolerance. The mildest and most common adverse effects for cannabis of any type are dry eyes and a dry mouth, but these can be easily remedied with some eye drops and a cold glass of water.
Some other, more inconvenient side effects for HHC-O may include:
Keep in mind not everyone has the same experiences with cannabinoids. Some may feel anxious or dizzy with very little product, while others may smoke or eat all the cannabinoids they want and still not experience any side effects. Which adverse effects you experience—and how strong or mild they are—will depend on several factors, such as tolerance, body chemistry, dosage, delivery method, and most importantly, the quality of the product.
When it comes to any cannabinoid, it is extremely important to dose correctly depending on your tolerance. If you’re new to the world of cannabis or just have a generally low THC tolerance, it’s best to start slow and build your way up to a high that feels comfortable for you. None of this matters, however, if your cannabinoid source is of bad quality. Getting cannabis compounds that are well-made and third-party lab tested is the first and most crucial step to achieving a positive cannabinoid experience, with HHC-O or any other compound.
How Strong Is HHC-O?
As previously mentioned, HHC-O is estimated to be around 1.5 times stronger than HHC, its predecessor. HHC itself has been found to be around 70-80% as strong as delta 9, which is twice as strong as delta 8. While this may sound like some sort of riddle posed by a troll weary to let you through a door, it’s actually quite simple.
HHC-O is a little stronger than delta 9, twice as strong as delta 8, and a lot stronger than milder compounds like delta 8 and delta 10.
Is HHC-O Stronger Than THC-O?
While HHC-O is stronger than delta 8, delta 9, delta 10, and HHC, it is not stronger than THC-O. Though they are made similarly, THCO is thought to be roughly three times as potent as regular delta 9, making it a little less than thrice as strong as HHC-O as well.
Is HHC-O Stronger Than THC?
Yes, HHC-O is slightly stronger than THC. That said, users report the two compounds feeling strikingly similar in terms of potency and effects. HHC is 70-80% as strong as THC, and HHC-O is 1.5 stronger than THC, which would make HHC a little stronger than THC, but not as incredibly potent as compounds like THCO or THCP.
How Is HHC-O Made?
While HHC-O is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, it only exists in trace amounts in the cannabis plant, much like HHC. So, chemists have developed a safe and efficient way to create the compound in a controlled lab environment.
HHC-O is made similarly to HHC, but with one added step. As we’ve said before, HHC-O is just a hydrogenated version of HHC, so creating the compound requires first creating HHC. Creating HHC requires THC conversions and results from a process known as hydrogenation. Hydrogenation involves adding hydrogen atoms to a specific chemical structure in order to stabilize it. This practice isn't unique to cannabinoids; it’s actually quite popular in the food world, specifically used to turn vegetable oil into margarine.
When making HHC, THC is the chemical compound being hydrogenated. This is achieved via high temperatures and a catalyst, such as nickel, zinc, or palladium. This process breaks THC’s double bonds and replaces them with two hydrogen atoms, forming an entirely new compound known as HHC. Although hydrogenation changes the chemical structure of HHC, it leaves its effects and properties virtually unchanged. Additionally, it stabilizes the compound, making it more resistant to oxidation, heat, and UV light and subsequently giving the compound a longer shelf life.
From there, the process closely resembles that of THC-O. Acetic anhydride, a highly flammable and colorless liquid. Acetic anhydride is added to the HHC molecules in order to produce HHC-O acetate. Because the process can involve some dangerous chemicals, it is absolutely critical that you source your HHC-O from a trustworthy, capable company that also offers testing, ingredient lists, and transparency about their production processes.
Is HHC-O Legal?
HHC-O is completely federally legal thanks to the Farm Bill. Passed in 2018 and also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act, this bill effectively legalized hemp and all hemp derivatives at the federal level. Under this act, cannabinoids made from hemp containing 0.3% THC or less are legal to use, possess, purchase, produce, sell, and distribute.
While the Farm Bill makes the compound federally legal, it is not legal in every state. HHC-O is fully federally legal and legal in 41 states, but nine of them have banned or heavily restricted the compound.
What is the Difference Between HHC-O and HHC?
The main difference between HHC and HHC-O is the presence of acetic anhydride. HHC is a hydrogenated version of HHC, and HHC-O is made by adding acetic anhydride to HHC, meaning that the only chemical difference between them is one extra step in the production process.
This extra step, however, does manifest some differences in the way each compound affects you. While hydrogenation keeps all of THC’s properties in HHC, it slightly alters its potency to make it a little milder. The main reason for making HHC-O is to add potency. So, the only real difference between the two compounds is that HHC-O is about one and a half times stronger than HHC, but apart from that, they share all of the same properties and benefits.
Is HHC-O Safe?
Although there isn't much scientific information available on HHC-O, its safety profile is thought to be almost exactly the same as that of similar compounds like delta 9, HHC, and THC-O. Because it is made from HHC, goes through a process similar to THC-O, and behaves like delta 9, the compound is thought to be generally safe without any sort of long-term health issues.
That said, no cannabinoid is a stranger to the plant’s adverse effects. Consuming too much HHC-O could result in some negatives, such as anxiety and paranoia, dizziness, and headaches. In order to maintain a safe and positive experience, it’s important that you dose the compound adequately. An overdose won't kill you, but it won't be a good time either. When it comes to HHC-O, be sure to start low and slow and gradually build your high until it fits just right. This may seem to take a lot of patience and be a bit of a trial-and-error process, but it’s worth it if it means you can actually enjoy yourself instead of spending a night freaking out on the couch.
Another important safety aspect of HHC-O is getting it from a reputable manufacturer. Because the FDA does not monitor the production or distribution of hemp-derived products, it is essential that you look out for your own health and do some research before buying a product. Be sure to look online for reviews and testimonials, ask for third-party lab reports and ingredient lists, and fully understand exactly what is going into your body and how it will affect you.
Here at Diamond CBD, all of our products are made using organic, non-GMO hemp grown right here in the United States. The hemp plant is outstandingly absorbent, meaning it takes in nutrients and contaminants depending on its environment. If a grower uses any sort of dangerous chemical on their hemp, traces of those chemicals could end up in your product. The hemp farms we associate with never use pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or any other harmful chemical.
Additionally, all of our products go through rigorous third-party lab testing to assess their purity and potency. We also offer full and transparent ingredient lists. Both of these are readily available on your website, meaning you can fully inspect your products before purchase and have a good time without worrying about any contaminants or harmful chemicals in your products.
Will HHC-O Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Because there isn't much research yet on HHC-O it isn't clear whether consuming the compound will or will not show up on a drug test. That said, it is very possible that HHC-O will show up on a drug test. THC compounds like delta 8, delta 9, and THCP are all metabolized by THC-COOH, the metabolic enzyme that urine tests search for.
Because drug tests aren’t yet advanced enough to differentiate between these compounds, it may pick up HHC-O and mark your test as positive. That said, if HHC-O is legal in your state, you may be able to talk with your employer and ask for a more accurate (and more expensive) test that is more capable to determine whether you ingested marijuana or a hemp-derived cannabinoid.
Again, we don’t yet know if THC-COOH processes HHC-O, but if you know you’ve got a drug test coming up, it’s best to steer clear for a few weeks before. Better safe than sorry!
Different Types of HHC-O Products Available
Although HHC-O has just recently entered the hemp market, manufacturers have lost no time and have already come out with several HHC-O products, including disposable vapes, vape cartridges, tinctures, edibles, and capsules.
All of these products have their own advantages and disadvantages. Vapes, for example, are a great way to take your buzz on the go. They’re also the quickest products to produce a buzz, but the high doesn’t last as long as it does with edibles like gummies. Edibles may take a couple hours to kick in, but they hit much harder than any other consumption method and can last more than 10 hours. Other products, such as capsules and tinctures, are also convenient and comfortable in their own ways, but it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you.
We don’t currently sell any HHC-O products here at Diamond CBD, but we’re working on it! Because the compound is so new, we still need to sort some things out before we can get HHC-O products on the shelves. We wouldn’t want to sell a product that isn't completely safe for you to use, so bear with us as we do our best to give you what you want while simultaneously keeping your safety and well-being in mind. In the meantime, you can pick up some high-quality delta 9 or HHC from our store—they are, after all, strikingly similar compounds. When we do introduce our own safe and high-quality HHC-O products, you can be the first to know by joining our newsletter!