Does HHC-P Show Up on a Drug Test?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
September 14, 2022
drug test and hhc-p
drug test and hhc-p

One of the best things to happen to cannabis enthusiasts in the 21st Century was the legalization of hemp, which allowed us to enjoy federally compliant cannabinoids that can get us high.  Cannabinoids like delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, THC-O, and THC-P have made it easy for us to get a gratifying psychoactive experience out of something we can simply order online and have shipped to our home.  But, there’s one factor that many people may overlook, which is drug-testing.

We recognize that THC-based cannabinoids can cause a failed drug test result (read more on hhc-p vs thc-p).  But, with hexahydrocannabiphorol (HHC-P) now in the picture, where does one stand with this new cannabinoid?  Is HHC-P structurally different enough from THC cannabinoids to ensure a clean test, or does one still need to be careful?  Let’s find out.

What are Drug Tests Actually Looking For?

Here’s the thing – drug tests aren’t looking for actual THC, or even traces of marijuana.  They’re looking for something called, “THC-COOH”.  This is a metabolite produced when the body is clearing certain cannabinoids out of the system.  Basically, when we take a psychoactive cannabinoid, 50% of it metabolizes within 30 minutes, and then another 25% 30 minutes later.  What remains is 25% of that cannabinoid, which eventually gets converted into a metabolite known as THC-COOH, which leaves the body through our urine as its primary channel, although it can also be detected in our sweat and even our hair.

THC-COOH is responsible for metabolizing all THC cannabinoids.  So, that’s why it doesn’t matter if you’re taking a hemp-derived form of THC – you can still, and probably will, fail a drug test.

Does HHC-P Convert into THC-COOH?

Hexahydrocannabiphorol, along with hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) and HHC-O-Acetate (HHC-O), are different from THC.  They’ve the addition of a hydrogen atom that changes their chemical structure, and this can leave people confused about where they stand when it comes to drug-testing.  Question is then, does this unique chemical structure mean that HHC-P never converts into THC-COOH?

Well, we don’t know. 

You see, there just hasn’t been any research done on how these new “H” cannabinoids metabolize just yet.  Some people say they pass tests after taking HHC, and others say fail.  What complicates this is that some HHC-P products may contain other cannabinoids like delta 8 or THC-P, shown in fine print on the product’s label, which will almost definitely cause a failed drug test result.

Does HHC-P Potentially Affect All Drug Tests?

If HHC-P does convert into THC-COOH, then you will fail a urine test if it’s still in your system.  Urine-based tests make up 90% of all drug tests administered in the country, as they’re cheap, reliable and relatively fast in terms of turnaround time.  But, what about other drug tests?

  • Blood Tests: Usually used in hospitals, to see if a person is currently high.  This means that they pick up on THC before it metabolizes, while it’s still in the bloodstream, so there’s no THC-COOH being detected.  Whether or not these drugs can pick up HHC-P isn’t known.
  • Saliva Tests: Show whether or not you’ve consumed THC in the last 10 hours.  There’s a chance that you may pass if you’ve taken HHC-P.
  • Hair Tests: Look for evidence of drug use within the last 90 days in a person’s hair.  They may or may not show evidence of HHC-P usage.  But, they’re uncommon because they have a long turnaround time, are expensive and can be unreliable.
  • Sweat Tests: Aren’t typically used to show drug use.  They’re more for doing clinical studies.  They consist of a patch that’s stuck to the skin for 2 days, where it collects traces of compounds found in a person’s sweat.

What Might Impact Whether or Not You Will Pass?

Now, if you have taken HHC-P and have a drug test coming up, you don’t need to go into a panic just yet.  Here are some factors that you need to keep in mind.

Factor #1: How Much You Took

Naturally, the more HHC-P you’ve consumed, the longer it will take to fully clear from your body.  If you’ve taken only a small amount, it can be gone in as little as 48 hours.  It’s all about the amount of THC-COOH that’s in your system at the time of your test, because if you’ve taken a lot of a certain cannabinoid, you’re going to have a buildup of THC-COOH that’s slowly making its way out of the body.

Factor #2: How Long Ago You Took It

The commonly used urine tests show 2-60 days of past HHC-P usage based on a combination of the factors we’re listing right now.  If it’s been several weeks since your last dose of HHC-P, you are likely in the clear.  If it’s been a couple of days since your last HHC-P dose, you’re more likely to fail.  For reasons we will get into in the next section, if you’ve only taken HHC-P, say, once or twice, you could very well pass after about 2 weeks or so.

Factor #3: How Often You Took It

If you took HHC-P a couple times, then you are much more likely to pass.  THC-COOH clears at the same rate no matter what, so if you were a several-times-a-day user, there may be a traffic jam effect going on where THC-COOH remains in the body for a long time, even after you’ve stopped taking it.  In this case, you may test positive for up to 60 days, as your body is still working to metabolize all of the cannabinoid that has accumulated in your body.

Factor #4: What Your Body Does with It

You might just metabolize HHC-P quickly.  Your overall health can play a big role in how long it takes your body to rid itself of cannabinoid metabolites, in ways that we’re still learning about.  And, if you’ve been sick, it can take longer for you to metabolize HHC-P completely.  It seems that genetic factors, nutrient levels and hormones can all affect the metabolization rate of cannabinoids as well.

Factor #5: Other Cannabinoids in Your System

Cannabinoids that also convert into THC-COOH, like delta 8, THC-P and pretty much any other intoxicating cannabinoids, will contribute to the THC-COOH in the body that can cause you to test positive.  In other words, if HHC-P is one of multiple cannabinoids you take regularly, that will increase your chance of failing a test.

Factor #6: Medications You May Be Taking

We do understand that certain medications may slow down the rate of metabolizing cannabinoids.  For instance, it seems that all cannabinoids bind up CYP3A4, an enzyme that breaks down both cannabinoids and many common medications, including steroid medications, opioids, antidepressants and blood pressure medications.  This means that if you’re on one of these medications, there’s a good chance that you’ll metabolize cannabinoids more slowly, leading to a longer window during which you can test positive.

Can Anything Help Me Clear THC-COOH More Quickly?

One last thing is that we’re often asked if anything can help THC-COOH leave the body fast.  There are all kinds of tips that you’ll see on the internet, like drinking more water, trying detox supplements, taking zinc and drinking cranberry juice.  While they have not been proven to be ineffective, they also haven’t proven to be effective either.  So, we don’t recommend relying on these methods to help you pass a test.  And, we definitely don’t recommend continuing to take HHC-P along with one of these methods in hopes that your “detox” method will negate your HHC-P usage.

The Takeaway

Since a failed drug test can occur if you take HHC-P, the best thing you can do is, if you know that you’re gonna be drug-tested, is simply abstain…. not only from HHC-P, but from all psychoactive cannabinoids.  While we still don’t know the exact relationship between HHC cannabinoids and THC-COOH, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and assume that like all other intoxicating hemp derivatives, hexahydrocannabiphorol does convert into THC-COOH in the body, and so you’re better off totally avoiding HHC-P until afterwards.