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HHC-R, THCa, Cannabinoids
October 19, 2023 By Wild Orchard Co.

Your Wild n’ Awesome Cannabinoid Matchup: HHC-R vs. THCa

We know that the hemp plant contains over 100 individual cannabinoids.  And, as any fan of the plant will tell you, some are more worth exploring than others.  We are gonna look at two cannabinoids that have recently made their way onto the market: HHC-R, and THCa.  Both cannabinoids come with plenty of benefits and psychoactive effects.  Although, they’re unique enough that you want to consider each one carefully.

Cannabinoid Basics

We’ll talk about the differences between THCa and HHC-R in just a moment.  First, let’s offer a quick refresher on what cannabinoids are.  Cannabinoids refer to the primary active compounds found in cannabis.  These compounds are distinctive in that they’re the only plant-derived compounds that directly feed our endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids that have the job of regulating processes within the body, like our tolerances to pain and stress, our sleep, inflammation, and more.  Cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana attach to different cannabinoid receptors in the body, resulting in chemical reactions that improve how efficient these physiological processes are.  Basically, consuming cannabinoids supports our body’s innate methods for maintaining homeostasis, for optimal wellbeing.

Interestingly, all cannabinoids come from CBG, or cannabigerol, the singular cannabinoid present in young cannabis, before the plant matures during the growing process.  CBG eventually branches itself out to become over 100 individual cannabinoids that are isomers of one another, including the ones that we’re diving into today.


THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the raw, acidic precursor to delta 9 THC, and you’ll only find it in raw cannabis flower.  Basically, all cannabinoids have an acidic precursor form – like CBDa, which converts into CBD – and these compounds only convert into their more widely used counterparts after the plant has been heated.  That’s why, for example, smoking raw flower gets us high, but eating it doesn’t.  Heat has to be applied for THCa to become THC, and the compound takes on new properties during this process.

Can You Get High from THCa?

Now bear with us, as this can be a bit confusing.  You can’t get high off of THCa, because again, the cannabinoid isn’t intoxicating until it’s heated, since heating it converts it into delta 9 THC, which gains the ability to attach to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to trigger intoxication.

But, the majority of THCa products that you’ll encounter will get you high.  The reason why is that these products have to be heated in order to be usable.  We’re talking about flower, vapes, and dabs, all of which undergo a heating process through combustion or vaporization.  This process converts the THCa into delta 9 THC, and as we all know, delta 9 THC is absolutely intoxicating – it’s what gives weed its notorious high, after all.

Does THCa Have Any Benefits?

THCa actually does have benefits when it’s left raw, which is something that might surprise people.  And, while there’s plenty of info out there about THCa’s benefits, we’re really focusing on products like THCa flower, vapes, and concentrates, which aren’t feeding you THCa, but delta 9 THC.  In other words, these products will give you the benefits of delta 9.  We know about this through many decades’ worth of clinical research.

These benefits include:

  • Effects on Appetite and Nausea: Studies have shown that delta 9 THC can reduce nausea and episodes of vomiting, all while improving appetite (after all, a lot of us are familiar with the munchies)
  • Better Mood and Better Sleep: Researchers have found that delta 9 regulates neurotransmitters in the brain that impact our mood and stress response, which is why so many people find THC to be both relaxing and uplifting. It can also improve sleep by balancing hormones that affect our sleep response.
  • Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Properties: Delta 9 THC is known for both its anti-inflammatory and analgesic that can help with physical discomfort and inflammatory symptoms, as we’ve seen proven in a number of studies.
  • Neurological Effects: A lot of studies have explored the way in which delta 9 can regulate neurological function, and studies done on multiple sclerosis and epilepsy show that delta 9 THC has a strong likelihood of improving symptoms.

How are THCa Products Made?

THCa naturally exists in the hemp plant, but there are a few ways to make specific THCa products.  One is by cultivating THCa flower, which involves growing industrial hemp and exposing it to specific conditions that naturally increase its THCa concentration.  This is how most THCa flower and concentrates are created.  Usually, for vapes, a distillate is created through isomerization, rearranging the molecules in CBD distillate to turn it into THCa distillate, which can then be enhanced with terpene extracts to offer a full-spectrum vape oil.

Can You Enjoy THCa Legally?

Yes, THCa converts into delta 9 easily through the application of heat.  Hence, we recognize that federal law prohibits sales of hemp-infused products that contain more than 0.3% delta 9 THC.  But, when you test a THCa product, it’s compliant with this law.  It’s because the THCa hasn’t converted into THC yet.  That means that THCa products are totally legal under federal law.  However, several states have banned THCa products, as in products that contain more than 0.3% THCa + delta 9 combined:

  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island


HHC-R is a naturally occurring cannabinoid of the hemp plant, just like THCa, but only exists after decarboxylation – the process of heating the plant to activate certain cannabinoids.  It’s is a component of HHC (hexahydrocannabinol), a cannabinoid found in the seeds and pollen of the plant, and the hydrogenated form of delta 9 THC.  HHC-R is simply one of two HHC stereoisomers – the one that attaches completely to cannabinoid receptors, while the other stereoisomer does not.  Basically, this means that HHC-R is purified HHC, which is more potent than HHC.

Can You Get High from HHC-R?

Yes you can!  In fact, HHC-R will probably get you more high, milligram for milligram, than THCa products that give you delta 9 THC.  HHC-R is, again, a purified form of HHC.  Plus, HHC is about as intoxicating as delta 9, promoting a high that feels basically identical.

Does HHC-R Have Any Benefits?

HHC-R is a brand new addition to the cannabinoid market, and studies haven’t been conducted yet on its effects and benefits – in fact, the same applies to HHC, since even HHC is so new.  But, we know that HHC-R is very, very similar to delta 9 THC in its chemical structure, and based on that along with anecdotal studies, we can say that HHC-R is probably going to give you basically the same benefits.

How are HHC-R Products Made?

Making an HHC-R product requires isomerization, in which CBD is converted into HHC-R by chemically rearranging its molecular structure – something that’s made possible because, again, all cannabinoids start out as CBG, and so they are isomers of one another.  This creates an HHC-R distillate, which can be added to any product formula.

Can You Enjoy HHC-R Legally?

HHC-R is compliant with federal law in any concentration, because only delta 9 THC is a restricted hemp derivative.  Still, HHC-R is banned in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington

HHC-R or THCa: Which One Will It Be?

HHC-R and THCa both offer a lot to anyone looking to experience a legal high from the hemp plant.  But, they’re quite different in how they’re presented to us, their legality, and the actual nature of the high, with HHC-R being more potent than delta 9.  Thankfully, you can compare them for yourself at Wild Orchard Co.