HHC Drug Test: Can You Pass A Drug Test With HHC?

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Suppose you're a cannabis user who enjoys the psychoactive effects of THC but has to undergo drug testing for school, work, or other personal reasons. In that case, you may have encountered HHC products that claim to provide a similar high to THC but aren't detectable on your standard drug test.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that you can have your cake and eat it with HHC.

HHC products are new to the scene, and there's very little research on the safety of HHC and the extent of its effects, so we'll do our best to compile the research surrounding whether HHC's metabolites are detected on drug tests.

Key Takeaways:

  • HHC or hexahydrocannabinol is a hydrogenated form of the THC cannabinoid.

  • The effects of HHC and THC are nearly identical, but HHC is slightly less potent, producing mellower effects in most users.

  • The most common form of drug testing is the urine test which detects metabolites of elicit compounds (THC metabolite)—it doesn't differentiate between hemp-derived cannabinoids and marijuana-derived cannabinoids.

  • THC breaks down into 11-hydroxy-THC, and HHC turns into 11-hydroxy-HHC. Because these two metabolites are similar, some drug tests can't tell the difference.

  • Cannabinoids are stored in the body's fat cells and can remain in one's system for up to 4 weeks after the last use. You should abstain from all psychoactive cannabinoid use if you have an upcoming drug test.

What Exactly Is HHC?

HHC stands for hexahydrocannabinol.

It's essentially the THC molecule that has its carbon double bonds replaced with hydrogen molecules in its chemical structure through hydrogenation.

HHC was first synthesized by the American chemist Dr. Roger Adams in 1944 using THC found in marijuana plants—but it can be done with hemp-derived THC, which is what many of the HHC products found on the market are made from, although HHC has been found naturally in trace amounts in high-potency cannabis Sativa plants [1].

HHC is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid requiring a chemical reaction to transform the THC molecule through a process similar to how we get margarine from vegetable oil.

The HHC cannabinoid derived from hemp is becoming a popular compound for its THC-like effects while still abiding by legal federal guidelines. Some people also will use HHC products instead of THC, claiming it doesn't produce a positive drug test result—but that may not be entirely true.

What's The Difference Between HHC And THC?

HHC and THC are cannabinoids found in the cannabis Sativa plant with very many similarities and some key differences, including:

  • Delta-9 THC is found more abundantly in cannabis Sativa plants—up to 30% in high-potency marijuana strains and up to 0.3% in the hemp plant—while HHC is found in very small quantities.

  • HHC is THC without any double carbon bonds in its chemical structure. Instead, it's replaced with hydrogen.

  • The hydrogenation process gives HHC a much longer shelf life than these compounds. THC naturally degrades into CBN (cannabinol), while HHC is nearly apocalypse-proof, thanks to the stable hydrogen bonds.

  • HHC is about 20% less potent than delta-9 THC yet slightly more potent than delta-8 THC.

  • There isn't as much research surrounding HHC as THC, so much of the known effects and safety collected on the compound are largely anecdotal evidence.

  • HHC isn't as abundant on the market because it's not as well known and takes more effort to produce in more significant quantities.

HHC and THC have very similar chemical structures. Still, HHC has subtle differences that change the binding affinity to receptors in the endocannabinoid system and pain receptors.

Many people enjoy using HHC products to achieve effects similar to THC from marijuana, but because of its weaker strength, it's less prone to feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and drowsiness.

HHC can also be more accessible to people who live in states where recreational marijuana isn't legal. HHC can be harvested from hemp-derived THC molecules, so it's technically legal on a federal level.

How Do Drug Tests Work?

Drug tests are often requested for specific jobs, insurance claims after a car accident, or for participating in sports leagues.

But how exactly do they work?

The most common drug tests involve urine samples that are analyzed for the presence of certain substances like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates. However, some tests detect other drugs like psychedelic and prescription medications.

Urine drug tests are the preferred testing method as they're relatively easy to obtain and give fairly accurate results. But there are other options for detecting the presence of drugs in one's body, such as hair or blood tests—but these requests tend to be rare.

Urine drug tests can detect the presence of metabolites—the breakdown products of drugs that remain in the body after the effects have worn off.

Specific metabolites can remain in the body for days and even weeks after drug use, which makes it an effective way to screen for recent substance use.

While the urine drug test is popular for its accessibility and high accuracy rate, false positives or negatives occasionally occur due to incorrect sample collection or contamination during testing.

What Are THC Metabolites?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. It is broken down in the body by enzymes in the liver. The resulting metabolites are then stored in fat cells and excreted in the urine. Drug tests usually test for THC-COOH, one of the most common metabolites.

However, other metabolites may also be detectable depending on the test's sensitivity. THC is typically detectable in urine for up to 30 days after use.

However, frequent users may have traces of THC in their system for months. So, if you're worried about a drug test, it's best to abstain entirely from marijuana and even delta-8 THC from hemp use.

How Does HHC Metabolize?

test, tube, lab

A popular reason people are turning to HHC products is the marketing claim that this compound produces results similar to the high THC in marijuana, but it isn't detected in most drug tests.

Even federally legal isomers of delta-9 THC, such as hemp-derived delta-8 and delta-10, will result in a failed drug test, which has many people interested in a "safer" option.

To understand whether HHC and other cannabinoids are detected in a conventional 12-panel drug test, we must understand how HHC metabolizes.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of scientific research surrounding HHC. However, as a THC analog, we should expect that the liver breaks down HHC in very similarly.

THC-COOH or 11-hydroxy-THC is the main metabolite formed by the liver after it consumes THC.

One study found that liver microsomes from small rodents metabolized the HHC molecule in a very similar way to THC producing a minor active metabolite—but instead of 11-hydroxy-THC, it comes out as 11-hydroxy-HHC [2].

Remember, the molecule structure of HHC and THC are so similar that it's possible that most drug tests can't pick up the differences, resulting in a failed drug test.

How Long Does HHC Stay In Your System?

seedling, cannabis, marijuana

Various factors contribute to the length of time THC, HHC, or other cannabinoids remain in your body, including:

  • Frequency of use

  • Amount consumes

  • Personal sensitivity

  • Metabolism

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of solid research investigating the length of time the HHC molecule stays in your system, but if we look at delta-9 THC as a reference, it can be detected in the blood and urine of frequent users for up to several months.

We should assume that HHC, like other cannabinoids, is stored in the fat tissues and can remain in your system for 4-6 weeks.

For light users, it's recommended you abstain from HHC and all other THC analogs for at least 3 weeks or more before drug testing.

HHC And Drug Tests: How To Pass Your Drug Test

Most of what we know about HHC and drug testing comes from a handful of animal studies and anecdotal stories on forums like Reddit—some people claim that HHC doesn't show up on a drug test, while others have tested positive for THC use from HHC vapes or gummies.

The only sure-fire way to pass standard drug tests is to abstain from HHC and other THC analogs for at least 3 weeks before your expected test. If you've been consuming large amounts of this cannabinoid, you should give yourself more time, as cannabinoids can accumulate in body fat.

Do Cannabis Detox Kits Work?

drink, lime, water

When finding information on cannabis detoxes, you'll find natural methods like drinking cranberry juice, eating lots of fiber, or a commercial detox kit that claims to flush THC out of your system.

But do these kits work?

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that question. There is some evidence that detox kits can help remove THC traces from your system, but there is also a lot of skepticism surrounding these products. Detox kits are usually pretty expensive, so it's understandable if you're hesitant to shell out the money without knowing that they work.

Some experts say these kits can do more harm than good, as they can cause dehydration and upset your natural electrolyte balance. So while they may work for some people, it's probably not worth the risk.

Stick to home remedies or just abstain for a few weeks before your test, and you'll be fine.

The Takeaway: Can You Fail A Drug Test Using HHC?

HHC is a THC analog with a very similar chemical structure that produces nearly identical effects in humans. It's essentially a hydrogenated form of the THC molecule, making it more shelf stable and producing an elevated psychoactive experience.

Some research shows that HHC produces a slightly different metabolite in animal urine samples. Most urine tests detect 11-hydroxy-THC, and HHC breaks down into 11-hydroxy-HHC, which can test positive for THC use.

While some people have found luck using HHC and passing their drug tests, it can be difficult to get accurate results with drug tests, so we advise against using HHC as an alternative to THC, as the chances are there that you will fail a drug test.

References:

  1. Ahmed, S. A., Ross, S. A., Slade, D., Radwan, M. M., Khan, I. A., & ElSohly, M. A. (2015). Minor oxygenated cannabinoids from high potency Cannabis sativa L. Phytochemistry, 117, 194-199.

  2. Harvey, D. J., & Brown, N. K. (1991). Comparative in vitro metabolism of the cannabinoids. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 40(3), 533-540.

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