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Does HHC Show Up On a Drug Test?

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Written by Alexandra Hicks
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For many potential cannabis consumers, drug testing at their place of employment or in some other important area of their lives is the determining factor in whether they use cannabis products or not.

I have quite a few friends myself who would smoke cannabis regularly if they weren’t getting drug tested at work. The new HHC trend has many people wondering if they can get away with smoking this chemically similar version of THC and still keep their jobs. Will a drug test detect HHC the same way it detects Delta-9 THC? Let’s investigate.

Cannabis is full of fun and interesting compounds including HHC, all the Delta THCs, CBD, and so much more. If you would like to learn more about these cannabinoids, or try out different products make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, your source for information and exclusive deals on flowers and other products.


What is HHC?

Honestly, the available information on HHC (hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol) is extremely limited at this point.  Let’s start with whether it’s natural or synthetic – technically, it can be both. There is a biologically active naturally occurring (−)-hexahydrocannabinol, as well as its synthetic enantiomer (+)-hexahydrocannabinol. The synthetic HHC, which can be found in spice, has the chemical formula: 9-Nor-9β-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, and the natural variety, found in trace amounts in cannabis pollen, goes by the formula: 6aR,9R,10aR-Hexahydrocannabinol.

Simply put, HHC is a simplified version of Delta 9 THC without any double bonds. With HHC, all the double bonds have been broken and replaced with hydrogen (AKA hydrogenation). Both HHC and D9 have very similar molecular structures and comparable effects. It was discovered during research in the 1960s and 70s which aimed to find the most basic cannabinoid-like substances that could still bind to CB receptors.

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Kyle Ray, Chief Operating Officer at Colorado Chromatography Labs, says his company recently filed a process patent for the development of Hemp derived Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC). According to Ray, “Cannabis indica was collected from five different localities of Pakistan and analyzed for medicinally active compounds by GC-MS. The biologically active chemical compounds amongst the naturally occurring cannabinoids are delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) which were present in all samples in high percentage. The highest percentage of THC present was 23.84% and that of CBD was 54.48%.”

He added that, “Other cannabinoids quantified were: delta 9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabivarin (CBV), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabipinol (CBP), cannabigerol (CBG), hexahydrocannabinol (HHCBN), cannabinol (CBN). The main objective of the study was to investigate biologically active compounds of Cannabis sp. from various localities.”

Drug Testing

When it comes to cannabis, standard urine tests are used to detect use ranging from roughly 1 to 45 days. Occasional users will typically be clean after 1-5 days, regular light users will take about 1-3 weeks, and for heavy daily users, expect 4 to 6 weeks to get clean.

Contrary to popular belief, standard urine tests don’t screen for the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis, but rather, they detect the metabolites created by the human body when we are exposed to THC. This class of metabolites is known as THC-COOH. These metabolites are nonactive, so drug tests are only measuring exposure, NOT impairment. Marijuana impairment cannot be detected through any kind of test thus far.

THC-COOH, or “carboxy THC” is the most common name for this metabolite. It’s the second THC-metabolite formed in our bodies, following hydroxy-THC, immediately after exposure. THC-COOH is lipid-soluble, meaning it’s stored in our fat cells making it detectable in our systems for much longer than other substances, those that are water soluble for example.

False Positives

According to the minimal existing research in animal models, HHC metabolizes into compounds similar to THC-COOH, but the metabolites but the HHC versions of them:  8alpha-hydroxy-HHC and 8beta-hydroxy-HHC. The question now, is could these HHC version of metabolites give a “false positive” for THC metabolites on a standard drug test?

As per the study: “The results from HHC were very similar to those from THC, namely hydroxylation at C-11 in most species, and the production of high concentrations of 8alpha-hydroxy-HHC in the mouse and 8beta-hydroxy-HHC in the hamster. As this molecule lacks the double bond of the THCs and, hence, the allylic nature of C-11 and C-8, the results suggest that it is the orientation of the molecule to the active site of the cytochrome P-450 mixed-function oxidase rather than the reactivity of the C-H bond that governs the position of hydroxylation”

“Hexahydrocannabinol Metabolites produced from five of the species are listed in Table 9. The profiles were again very different from each other, but show the same general trends to those observed for the other cannabinoids. Thus, 11-hydroxylation dominated the profile from rat, rabbit and guinea pig and 8alpha-hydroxylation was very abundant in the mouse. Once again the hamster produced the 8beta-hydroxy metabolite as the major compound and the guinea pig produced substantial concentrations of side-chain hydroxylated metabolites.”

Have You Tried The New HHC Carts?

While this information is certainly valuable, it does present a slight issue. If HHC metabolizes into 8alpha-hydroxy-HHC in the mouse, and 8beta-hydroxy-HHC, it’s likely this compound will become a slightly different metabolite in humans.

HHC & Drug Test: What is the Final Verdict?

So far, I gave you a bunch of information about HHC and drug testing but didn’t answer the main question of the article: Does HHC show up on a drug test or not? Short answer, we don’t know yet. Anecdotal evidence as well as numerous first-hand accounts I found online claim that it does NOT trigger a positive. However, I have not tested this myself, nor have I been able to find any official research or documentation on the matter.

That being said, there is also a strong possibility that even if HHC doesn’t make you pop on a test, your product could contain traces of other compounds that will, such as Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC. If you have anything important riding on your drug test, it’s best to abstain from all cannabis products to be on the safe side.

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Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Do you have experience with HHC and whether it will show up on a drug test or not? If so, drop us a line in the comment section below! To learn more, and for exclusive deals on Delta 8, Delta 10 THC, THC-O, HHC, THCV, THCP and other products, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter.

About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Alexandra is the managing editor at CBD Testers. She has always been interested in alternative and natural remedies, and the versatility of cannabis as a healing plant is something that greatly appeals to her. It's for this reason that she decided to work as a cannabis industry journalist and editor, to help spread accurate information about the benefits of this plant.

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