Will HHC show up on a drug test?
Will HHC make me fail a drug test?
What is HHC?
HHC stands for hexahydrocannabinol. HHC is a synthetic cannabinoid that has a chemical structure similar to THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
HHC was created in 1944 by the chemist Roger Adams, by adding hydrogen molecules to THC in a process known as hydrogenation. This process removes a double bond from the cyclohexane ring in THC.
How is HHC Made?
HHC was originally created from cannabis-derived THC, but it is now commonly produced from hemp (cannabis with a concentration of THC < 0.3% by weight). HHC has a questionable regulatory status because it can be made from hemp and closely resembles THC. Manufacturers of HHC first convert CBD into delta-8-, or delta-9-THC which is then hydrogenated to produce HHC.
What's the Difference Between HHC and THC?
HHC has a slightly different chemical structure than THC and a weaker affinity for the CB1 receptor. This could result in more mild effects compared to THC, but more research is needed. For more on this, check out our question, HHC vs THC: What's the difference?
Will HHC Show up on a Drug Test?
Many people seem to believe that HHC won't show up on a drug test. After all, HHC is a relatively new compound and not many drug tests should be able to detect it. Furthermore, traditional drug detection tests are designed to identify metabolites of THC. Specifically, drug tests for cannabis work by detecting a metabolite of THC called 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid ( or "9-carboxy-THC"). Since HHC's chemical structure is nearly identical to THC, it'll have a metabolite similar or identical to 9-carboxy-THC. This would trigger a positive reading on a drug test for cannabis.
Not enough research on HHC has been done to say this with absolute certainty, but based on HHC's structure and what we know about its metabolism, it would be more than likely to show up in my opinion.
A laboratory study investigated how HHC was metabolized and found the following:
"The results from HHC were very similar to those from THC, namely hydroxylation at C-11 in most species" - Comparative in vitro metabolism of the cannabinoids
So again, because of the structural similarity between the two compounds, the possibility that they will produce very similar metabolites is high, which means HHC would be likely to trigger a positive test.
HHC and Drug Tests
Daily cannabis users can have a positive urine drug screen for 4–6 weeks after stopping the drug. HHC is fat soluble, which means it can be stored in the body's fat cells for a long time. This makes it more difficult to clear HHC from your system because as the drug is removed from the blood, fat cells can slowly release HHC back into your bloodstream.
Although cannabis is considered one of the more specific items on a urine drug screen, false positives can occur and have been reported with other medications such as dronabinol, efavirenz, NSAIDs, promethazine, riboflavin, ethacrynic acid, and even certain types of soap.
HHC’s use can potentially lead to a positive drug test for THC due to the structural similarities that exist between the two compounds. While specific drug tests for HHC are not readily available or performed, it is likely that HHC produces similar metabolites that are likely to be detected on most drug tests. Still confused? Ask us another question.
- Hexahydrocannabinol on the Light Cannabis Market: The Latest "New" Entry Hexahydrocannabinol on the Light Cannabis Market: The Latest "New" Entry.
- Interpretation of Workplace Tests for Cannabinoids Interpretation of Workplace Tests for Cannabinoids.
- Comparative in vitro metabolism of the cannabinoids (PubMed).