hhc vs thc

HHC vs THC: Key Differences

A lot of people are talking about HHC, or hexahydrocannabinol. Some are calling it “THC lite” or “synthetic THC,” and there’s a lot of interest in how this relatively new and very interesting cannabinoid could be used as an alternative to THC. But how true are those claims? And how do THC and HHC compare? This HHC vs THC guide will explain it all.

What Are Cannabis Plant Cannabinoids?

Before we get into the specifics of THC vs HHC and the specific difference between THC and HHC, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what cannabinoids are.

In a nutshell, cannabinoids are natural compounds found within the cannabis or hemp plant. They occur naturally, and there are over 100 of them in total. Examples include CBD, CBG, CBN, and, of course, THC and HHC, too.

When consumed in various forms, like cannabis oils, flowers, or specific HHC products, these cannabinoids can interact with a part of the human body called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The ECS has its cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids like THC can interact with those receptors, triggering certain effects in the body, like a change in mood, appetite, tiredness, and so on.

thc vs hhc

THC: How It Works

Next, let’s look at what is HHC and THC, starting with THC. THC, which can come in various forms, like Delta-9 THC and Delta-10 THC, is a potent cannabinoid. It’s famed for being the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, capable of making people feel “high”. It works by binding with the cannabinoid receptors to trigger a sense of euphoria, among other effects.


There are lots of possible benefits associated with THC, especially from a medical perspective. Thanks to its potency and power to help people feel happier, as well as easing pain, inflammation, and other issues, it can be used as a supplementary treatment option for various conditions like depression, inflammation, insomnia, MS, migraines, nausea, and PTSD.


Some current uses for THC include:

  • Helping people relax
  • Stimulating the appetite
  • Easing nausea and vomiting
  • Improving sensory perception
  • Soothing pain and inflammation

HHC: How It Works

Next up in our HHC vs THC guide, we have to focus on HHC. So, what is HHC? Well, HHC is one of the “minor cannabinoids” and doesn’t appear much in the cannabis plant. So, when it comes to the HHC products you’d find in your local Portland cannabis dispensary, most of them are made with synthetic or man-made HHC.

Back in the 1940s, a chemist called Roger Adams figured out that he could add hydrogen to THC to create this new cannabinoid: HHC. Like THC, it’s capable of binding with cannabinoid receptors in the body, along with pain receptors, to trigger certain effects.


One of the big benefits of HHC is its stability. The hydrogenation process used to make this cannabinoid makes it more stable and strong compared to THC, so it can last longer and won’t break down as easily. It also is said to offer a milder high compared to THC, so it may not be quite as dangerous if used irresponsibly and may offer certain medical benefits and uses.


The uses and effects of HHC include:

  • Potential for pain management and relief
  • Easing symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Soothing inflammation
  • Treating insomnia and sleep problems
  • Easing vomiting and nausea

what is hhc thc

HHC vs THC: What’s the Difference?

So, is HHC stronger than THC? And how do the two compare? Well, firstly, HHC isn’t stronger. Of the two, THC is more potent and packs more of a punch. Indeed, many people call HHC “THC lite” as it feels a little less powerful and doesn’t cause such strong intoxicating effects or high sensations.

The two also have different chemical structures, different legal statuses, and slightly different effects, too. Does HHC get you high? Yes, just like THC, but it doesn’t do it quite as strongly. The lists of effects and benefits for each cannabinoid also have some notable differences, with HHC having less severe overall effects.

The Chemical Structure Differences

One of the key areas in which THC and HHC differ is in their chemical structure. They’re almost identical, except HHC has been hydrogenated, giving it an extra hydrogen atom compared to THC. That atom not only changes the chemical structure but also makes HHC more stable and resistant to UV radiation.

HHC vs THC: Legal Statuses in the US

THC and HHC also have different legal statuses at this time. THC is completely illegal at the federal level and in many states, but HHC operates in more of a legal gray area. It can be made from hemp, which is perfectly legal due to the 2018 Farm Bill, and it is therefore legal on a technical level. However, as more is discovered about this cannabinoid, we may see states introducing new laws to control it. Contact us to stay up to date on the legal situation in your state.

Clearly, HHC and THC have a lot in common, but also differ in key areas, like legality, use, benefits, and so on. More research is needed in areas like “Is HHC safe?” to figure out the potential advantages and uses of this cannabinoid instead of or alongside THC.

Ian Baker handles content marketing at Happy Leaf Portland. There are 5 years that he is deeply involved in the cannabis field. He had 3 years of experience as a Budtender and thanks to his desire to achieve more, he has a career move. Currently, he works as a content manager.