What Is the Difference Between HHC and THC?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
September 13, 2021
HHC and THC Difference between
HHC and THC Difference between

After the wild success of delta 8 THC as a legal alternative to delta 9 THC, the cannabis industry has found other less-known cannabinoids to compete in the cannabis marketplace. One of the most promising is HHC (hexahydrocannabinol).

If you’re new to the world of cannabis and you’re trying to figure out what’s the difference between HHC vs THC, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at these cannabinoids and see where they each shine.

While both of these cannabinoids have their benefits, THC is a better treatment for some specific medical conditions. In fact, the majority of cannabis-based research has focused on the use of THC rather than CBD.

What Is HHC?

HHC is a relative of THC that has long been known by science, but recently it has not often been discussed among cannabis users. HHC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in cannabis, but it’s present at such low levels that extracting it from the plant material would be too expensive. Because commercial production of HHC is just getting off the ground, it’s relatively unknown yet.

Some cannabinoids can be converted to other compounds by altering their chemical makeup. Commercial HHC is a type of hemp-derived CBD that has been made by chemical processing in laboratories. One of HHC’s biggest advantages over delta 8 and delta 10 is that it isn’t called THC.

What Is THC?

THC is the cannabinoid – a chemical responsible for causing a “high” or “euphoric” sensation and other marijuana’s psychological effects. It’s the second most common cannabinoid in cannabis plants, and it only appears in small concentrations in hemp products.

What Is the Difference between HHC and THC?

As we’ve discussed, both THC and HHC have numerous medical benefits. But they also have distinct uses and effects. Here’s a quick overview of the main differences.

  1. Medical Uses: THC is better at treating pain, nausea, and vomiting. It’s also great for reducing inflammation and increasing appetite. HHC, on the other hand, has antianxiety effects and anti-seizure properties and can reduce anxiety.
  2. Strain Types: The cannabis plant can contain a wide variety of different cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Different strains have different THC and HHC concentrations, as well as other plant-based cannabinoids and terpenes.
  3. Potency: Is HHC stronger than THC? Just as in foods like tomatoes or apples, the higher the concentration of a certain cannabinoid, the more potent the product is. There is a huge range of THC and HHC potency in the market, with many options falling in the middle rather than at the low or high end of the spectrum.
  4. Price: Although THC and HHC are both valuable and important, the price difference between them is much bigger than the price difference between CBD and THC.
  5. Safety: Both THC and HHC are relatively safe compared to many other drugs. But because there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about the effects of HHC, you should be careful and do your research before using it.

Different Parts of the Plant

THC is one of the unique cannabinoids that only exist in cannabis plants. This cannabinoid can only be found in a specific part of the plant: its flowering buds. On the other hand, HHC comes from different parts of the plant: the seeds and pollen. And not just cannabis plants but also hemp (which has low THC content).

What Are the Effects of THC and HHC?

The effects of HHC vs THC are largely subjective. That is, how you, as a user, feel is what matters most.

Before we get into what each cannabinoid does, it’s important to take note of the fact that both THC and HHC are found in many common products. So while HHC cannabinoid may affect you, another product you’re using may have already affected you.


The effects of THC are well-known. It is simple to find Delta-8 THC for sale both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.  It’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, which means it produces a “high.” It also gives users euphoric feelings and makes them feel more creative and sociable.

However, THC can also cause anxiety, paranoia, and even panic attacks in some people. In these cases, CBD can be used to treat the negative side effects of THC.

Potentially Different Bioavailability Levels

Because HHC is metabolized by the liver, it has a different bioavailability than THC. The differences between THC and HHC in bioavailability are even more pronounced when you take into account the fact that HHC is not available in the same forms as THC.

For example, while some people can find THC in their blood after smoking weed, there are no reports of any HHC being present in a person’s blood after smoking anything containing it.

On top of this, if you eat edibles containing both cannabinoids or vape with concentrates that contain both cannabinoids, your body will process both of them at the same time. The end result will be a product that contains all three cannabinoids: CBD, THC, and HHC.

However, there is one situation where this doesn’t happen: if you eat or vape something that’s 20% THC and 80% CBD or higher. In this case, your liver will not convert any of it to HHC; instead, it will be completely processed by your digestive system.

In this case, the bioavailability of each cannabinoid is dependent on the other. For example, when you eat a product that’s 100% THC, your liver will process it completely, and it won’t be converted to HHC. However, if you eat something that’s 80% THC and 20% CBD, your liver will not process any of it.

As a result, the bioavailability of HHC is significantly higher than THC in all situations, except for products containing 20% or more THC.

This makes sense since HHC does not have any of the medicinal effects that THC does – but only when taken orally. If you take an edible that contains both cannabinoids orally, your body will process both cannabinoids at the same time so they’ll end up in different parts of your body: while some will be metabolized by your liver and others by your digestive system. 

Different Levels of Prominence in the Plant

There are two ways to make THC and HHC in the cannabis plant: by either making them from the same strain of cannabis or by separating them from different strains.

For example, if you use a strain of cannabis that contains only 0.1% THC, you’ll end up with about 0.1 grams of HHC per kilogram of flowers. However, if you use a strain that’s 100% THC, you’ll end up with about 10 grams of HHC per kilogram of flowers. That’s because your body will process it completely; there will be no conversion from THC to HHC at all.

On the other hand, if you use a strain containing only 0.01% THC and 1% CBD, your body will not process it completely, so it won’t be converted to HHC at all. In this case, only 1 gram of HHC per kilogram of flowers will be produced; however, the amount produced depends on how much CBD is present.


The availability of HHC and THC in the cannabis plant is determined by the specific strain that you use. You can visit any weed store and check the products available there. Most companies provide customers with information on the substance source.


Both THC and HHC are Schedule I controlled substances. This means that possessing even a small amount of either substance is illegal without a medical prescription. However, the legal status of HHC is still complicated. 

Some legal experts argue that it’s legal under federal regulations known as the 2018 Farm Bill as long as the substance is derived from hemp and, also, contains no more than 0.3% of THC. Many other experts assume that states with Delta 8 restrictions are to invoke the same restrictions on HHC.

Forms in Which It Comes

HHC is available in two forms: free acid form and bound form. These are the most stable forms.

The free acid form is the form that comes into your body when you smoke or ingest cannabis. It’s converted into THC and CBD within seconds, which makes it one of the fastest-acting forms of THC.

A bound form is a slower-acting form of THC that can take up to 2 hours to be completely converted into HHC in your body after you consume cannabis. This is because it takes time for your body to break down bound THC, which means that your body won’t process it as quickly as free acid form.

HHC and THC are usually released from the plant at different times, depending on their respective concentrations in the flowers or leaves:

When you smoke your weed, most of the available HHC will be released right away because most of it will be converted into THC within seconds after being consumed by your body. At this point, there won’t be much HHC left in the plant.

After you consume cannabis, your body will release bound THC into your system first. It will take time for your body to break down the bound THC, which means that it won’t be released as quickly as a free acid form.

As a result, most of the HHC in cannabis plants is in the bound form and not available to be consumed. What this means is that while smoking or ingesting cannabis, you’ll get high faster than if you were to consume it in a pill or edible form, where all the HHC is bound and not available to be released into your system.

Where Does HHC Come from?

CBD and THC are both found in the cannabis plant. But while THC is part of the flower, leaves, and stalk, CBD is only found in the seeds, leaves, and stalk.

That’s why hemp-derived CBD products don’t contain as much THC. You can still get a high from CBD, but it’s much lower than from THC.

At the same time, commercial HHC is made in laboratories. It guarantees its purity and quality, which is another reason why many people prefer it over THC. 

What Are the Benefits of HHC?

As we’ve discussed in this review, both CBD and THC have a wide range of health benefits. But some benefits are only present when a product contains a high concentration of HHC.

  • Anti-Anxiety: HHC is a great anti-anxiety treatment. But when taken in high concentrations, it has the added benefits of reducing inflammation and increasing appetite.
  • Anti-Seizure: HHC can reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. But again, when taken in high concentrations, it also has antianxiety properties that could prove useful for people with other conditions as well.
  • Cognitive Benefit: HHC has been shown to enhance certain cognitive functions. Specifically, it has been shown to improve memory and learning.
  • Pain Relief: Both THC and HHC have been shown to reduce pain. But HHC is more potent, so it provides greater pain relief at lower doses.
  • Mood Enhancement: Users commonly report that consuming HHC products makes them feel less depressed. Again, this could be since both THC and HHC are present in many products.

Where Can You Get HHC?

The majority of HHC products online contain either cbd oil or a CBD/THC combination.

That means they contain both CBD and THC. So these products are illegal to sell, buy, or possess in many countries. However, CBD-only products are legal throughout most of the world. So while they don’t contain as much THC as HHC products, they are still illegal in many places.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons why people choose to use HHC. Its benefits include improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and protection against seizures. As with all medications and substances, though, it’s important to do your research and understand the potential side effects and drug interactions.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that HHC and THC are both found in many common products offered on the market. So while one may provide a certain benefit, another product you’re using may have already provided the same one. It is totally up to you when it comes to the winner in the battle of THC vs HHC.