Can HHC Make You Fail A Drug Test?
Hexahydrocannabinol, or HHC, is a federally legal psychoactive cannabinoid that produces nearly identical effects to delta-9 THC.
HHC can be found in trace amounts in the Cannabis sativa plant, however, it is usually derived synthetically via the hydrogenation of delta-9 THC found naturally in marijuana plants or hemp-derived THC.
HHC and THC have very similar chemical structures but differ in their naturally-found quantities, degree of hydrogen saturation, shelf life, potency, understood research, availability, and binding ability.
One comparative in-vitro metabolism study of THC, HHC, and other hemp-derived cannabinoids observed HHC metabolize to 11-hydroxy-HHC, in a similar way to how THC metabolizes to 11-hydroxy-THC.
Metabolites like HHC stay in your system for varying lengths of time depending on how frequently you use HHC products, how much HHC you consume, your personal sensitivity to HHC, and your metabolic rate.
HHC products that have not undergone lab tests can sometimes be cross-contaminated with THC and may exceed the federally legal limit of 0.3% delta-9 THC by weight.
There is no HHC drug test that specifically tests for HHC metabolites.
Because THC and HHC molecules are so similar, if you have an upcoming drug test, it is best to abstain from all cannabis products for at least 3 weeks to avoid testing positive.
There are many forms of hemp products on the market today, and as the THC analog known as HHC becomes a strong contender for cannabis users, many people want to know if HHC will show up on a standard drug test. Although some users have reported that they have passed a drug test while consuming HHC, in general, it appears that HHC can interfere with drug test results. Anecdotal evidence points to the fact that HHC drug test results can vary significantly among individuals, likely due to factors such as metabolism rate, frequency of use, and the sensitivity of the drug test. To explore this topic more, it is important to learn about how HHC is metabolized and how drug tests work.
What Is HHC?
HHC is an acronym for hexahydrocannabinol. HHC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid that many people use as a substitution for regular delta-9 THC. HHC is considered a semi-synthetic cannabinoid because although it can be found naturally in trace amounts, it is usually created by transforming THC molecules into HHC. Check out our HHC products from Flying Monkey.
How Is HHC Produced?
HHC was first developed in 1944 when the American chemist Roger Adams utilized a process called hydrogenation to convert delta-9 THC to HHC. Hydrogenation involves adding extra hydrogen molecules to a compound with double bonds to create a more reduced structure. While this chemical transformation was originally attempted using the THC molecule found in marijuana plants, the hydrogenation process can also be done with hemp-derived THC, and this is how most of the HHC on the market is produced. HHC can also be found naturally in trace amounts in highly potent Cannabis sativa plants.
HHC Vs. THC
As people begin to explore the different uses of the cannabis plant and which hemp product may be best for them, they often come across the question: what is the difference between HHC and THC?
The first main difference between HHC and THC is the quantities by which they can be found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. Delta-9 THC is found more abundantly at 30% in high-potency marijuana plants and up to 0.3% in the hemp plant. HHC is found in significantly lower amounts.
Degree of Hydrogen Saturation
Another difference between these two molecules is their saturation with hydrogen. While delta-9 THC metabolites have multiple carbon double bonds, in HHC, all of those double bonds have been replaced by hydrogens.
The hydrogenation process utilized to derive HHC gives it a much longer shelf life than THC. While THC naturally degrades to cannabinol, the stable hydrogen bonds in HHC prevent the molecule from metabolizing prematurely.
The potency of HHC is one of its most desirable features for users of hemp products. HHC is slightly more potent than delta-8 THC and approximately 20% less potent than delta-9 THC.
While HHC is on the rise in popularity, there's no doubt that this molecule has received significantly less research than THC. For this reason, much of the data and safety information regarding HHC is largely due to anecdotal evidence.
HHC is less known than THC so it is typically less abundant in the cannabis marketplaces. Additionally, due to the synthetic production, it takes more effort to produce HHC in significant levels to be sold.
Although HHC and THC are extremely similar in chemical structure, the subtle differences can change the binding affinity to endocannabinoid receptors in the body.
HHC: The New Trendy Cannabis Product?
The hemp-derived HHC cannabinoid is becoming increasingly popular in cannabis culture due to its similar psychoactive effects to THC while still abiding by legal federal guidelines. Another reason this product has been trending recently is due to the rumor that it will not show up on a drug test, however, it is not quite that simple.
THC is the main active metabolite in the cannabis plant. When someone smokes marijuana, there are enzymes in the liver that break down the THC molecules into metabolites that are either excreted in the urine or stored in fat cells. One of the most common types of THC metabolite formed when THC is metabolized is THC-COOH, or 11-hydroxy-THC, so drug tests often test for this molecule.
Although some drug tests are selective for THC-COOH, depending on how sensitive the test is, other metabolites may also be detectable.
Metabolism of HHC
Even though there are some hemp-derived THC isomers that are federally legal in the United States, such as delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC, these THC metabolites often produce a positive drug test result. For this reason, many hemp users are in search of a "safer" option that is less likely to cause them to test positive on a drug test.
Understanding the mechanism by which HHC metabolizes provides users with an understanding of how this compound with a very similar chemical structure to a THC molecule produces psychoactive results with almost identical effects. While HHC is only a slightly different metabolite that produces a similar intoxication to THC, it can appear differently on drug tests.
Despite its increasing popularity in the cannabis industry, there has been little research conducted on how HHC specifically metabolizes in the human body and most knowledge has been gathered through anecdotal evidence. Nevertheless, as this THC analog contains a similar chemical structure to THC, it is likely that HHC is broken down by the liver with a similar approach.
Cannabinoid In Vitro Metabolism Research Study
There has been one research study that tested the comparative in-vitro metabolism of other cannabinoids in microsomal preparations obtained from small rodents. The cannabinoids they tested within this study included delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, delta-11 THC, CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG, and HCC. It was found that HHC appears to oxidize an HHC isomer in a very similar way to delta-9 THC, except instead of the THC metabolite byproduct being 11-hydroxy-THC, it becomes 11-hydroxy-HHC.
Another interesting fact to note is that 11-hydroxy HHC is also a minor active metabolite of THC. For this reason, there is a chance HHC can be detected as THC on a drug test for marijuana and cause a false positive, but more research is necessary to support these findings.
When discussing the topic of cannabinoids and drug tests, one frequently asked question is, "Will HHC fail a drug test?" The answer to this query largely depends on the sensitivity and specificity of the drug test, considering the close chemical similarity between HHC and THC. If you want to know if consuming HHC will result in a failed drug test, there are several factors you must consider.
Due to the extremely similar chemical structure between HHC and THC, sometimes a drug test cannot detect the difference between these two molecules.
How Long Does HHC Stay In Your System?
If you have an upcoming drug test and are considering trying HHC products, you will need to know how long HHC stays in your system. The truth is, there are many factors that impact how long HHC as well as other forms of cannabis metabolites stay in your body. Some of these include:
How frequently you use HHC products
How much HHC you consume
Your personal sensitivity to the product
Your metabolic rate
HHC has not been as thoroughly researched as delta-9 THC, but assuming they are metabolized in a similar manner, HHC and other cannabinoids can be stored in fat cells throughout the body for up to a month and a half.
Although it is not an exact science, if you are a light or irregular user of HHC, it is recommended to abstain from these products for at least 3 weeks before taking a drug test.
While it is important to consider how HHC and drug tests interact, many people forget that HHC is relatively new in the hemp industry and many production companies do not test for contamination in their HHC products. For this reason, what they may think is pure HHC can contain other molecules that could interfere with drug testing results. In this case, users may find that the "safe" and technically legal HHC they purchased actually exceeds the federally legal limit of 0.3% delta-9 THC by weight.
Additionally, full-spectrum hemp products will contain trace amounts of delta-9 THC, so if you are a regular user, the THC metabolites can build up in your system and cause a positive test result. If you consume HHC, it is beneficial to purchase your product from a reputable company that provides a comprehensive Certificate of Analysis to ensure you know what you are ingesting.
Types of Drug Tests For Cannabis
There are many types of drug tests that can test if a person has a certain drug in their system. Most drug tests that companies use to test their employees are urine tests, but can they detect HHC?
Is There A HHC Cannabinoid Drug Test?
Thankfully for users of HHC products, there are no HHC drug tests that specifically detect HHC metabolites. While there is no direct method for HHC drug testing, if you have an upcoming drug screen that will test for THC, it may be best to abstain from using so you don't test positive.
Standard Drug Tests
Urine Drug Test
Urine tests are the most common method facilities utilize to test for the presence of cannabis metabolites and they often produce more accurate results than other types of drug tests. Instead of detecting THC specifically, urine test identifies the presence of specific THC metabolites, which are the molecules that remain in the body after the effects of the drug have worn off. Usually, urine drug tests are the preferred method for drug testing because it is easy to collect a sample and the test results are relatively accurate compared to other types of drug tests.
Based on current research, HHC could remain undetected on a standard urine test, as long as the molecule is not metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC. However, because 11-hydroxy-HHC is so similar, the presence of HHC's metabolites in your system could result in a failed drug test.
Blood Drug Test
While there are no direct studies of HHC cannabinoids being detected in blood tests, based on how delta-9 THC is metabolized, it can be expected that HHC metabolites remain in the blood for a month or more, depending on your frequency of consumption.
Hair Sample Drug Test
Hair sample tests are thought to detect THC for up to 3 months after the last time it was consumed, so it is hypothesized that HHC drug testing will produce similar results.
Cannabis Detox Kits
While there is some evidence that detox kits can help remove THC from your system, there are varying opinions on their efficacy. Detoxes can sometimes disrupt your body's natural electrolyte balance and cause dehydration, so for some people, the risk may not be worth it. In general, if you have an upcoming drug test and you don't want to test positive, it is best to abstain from using HHC products until after the drug screen.
For those people who are interested in trying hemp-derived products but are anticipating an upcoming drug test for work or otherwise, it is important to learn how the HHC molecule is metabolized and how you can expect HHC to interact with a drug test to ensure you pass your drug screen. While some people have avoided a positive drug test result while using HHC before standard drug tests, because HHC metabolites produce a similar chemical compound to THC metabolites, it can result in false positives. It is also important to consult with a physician before integrating an HHC product into your routine, especially if you take prescription medications.
For more information about the HHC, check out our wide array of products!