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HHc, THCa, Cannabinoids
October 19, 2023 By Wild Orchard Co.

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

Did you knw there are a whopping 100+ cannabinoids in any sample of the cannabis plant?  And, each one is worth exploring.  Although, some have more of a following than others.  Especially, on the hemp marketplace.  Today, we’re taking a look at two in particular: HHC (hexahydrocannabinol) and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).  While these cannabinoids are surprisingly similar in a number of ways, it’s very important to know how they differ.  That way, you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Cannabinoid Basics

Before we take a look at the differences between CBD and THCa, let’s talk about cannabinoids overall.  Cannabinoids refer to the primary active compounds found in cannabis.  These compounds are very unique because they’re the only compounds in plants that are directly used by the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids that maintain the task of regulating processes of the body, like pain tolerance, stress response, 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

THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the raw form of 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, here’s where things get a little complicated, so bear with us.  You can’t get high off of THCa, because again, the cannabinoid isn’t intoxicating until it’s heated, converting 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 will encounter can 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.  So, 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 has inherent benefits in raw form, which is something that might surprise people.  And, while there’s plenty of research on 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, which we know about 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 growing THCa flower, by cultivating 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, and we know that federal law prohibits sales of hemp products that contain more than 0.3% delta 9 THC.  But, when you test a THCa product, it’s compliant with this law, as the THCa hasn’t converted yet.  That means that THCa products are totally legal under federal law.  However, 4 states have banned THCa products, as in products that contain more than 0.3% THCa + delta 9 combined.  Those states are:

  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island

HHC

HHC is also a naturally occurring cannabinoid in hemp, but only exists after it’s converted from HHCa through heating. Hexahydrocannabinol is found in the seeds and pollen of the plant, acting as the hydrogenated form of delta 9 THC.  Meaning, it’s identical to delta 9 THC but with the addition of a hydrogen atom.

Can You Get High from HHC?

HHC is an intoxicating cannabinoid, and maybe its biggest claim to fame is how similar its high is to that of delta 9 THC – again, that’s not surprising since the cannabinoids are structurally identical in almost every way.  Basically, that means that THCa and HHC products might feel very similar when it comes to how high you get off of them.

Does HHC Have Any Benefits?

HHC is such a new addition to the market that there hasn’t really been time for researchers to analyze it for its benefits.  But, we know that HHC is so similar to delta 9 THC chemically, that it almost definitely shares the same benefits as the ones we listed above.  And, anecdotal evidence backs this up.

How are HHC Products Made?

Making an HHC product requires isomerization, in which CBD is converted into HHC 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 distillate, which can be added to any product formula.

Can You Enjoy HHC Legally?

HHC is compliant with federal law in any concentration, because only delta 9 THC is a restricted hemp derivative.  Still, HHC is illegal in 19 states, and those states are:

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

HHC or THCa: Which One is Right for You?

Overall, HHC and THCa are both totally worth trying.  Plus, while the effects can be very similar, you may find that each feels just unique enough to keep in rotation.  Thankfully, you can compare these two superstar cannabinoids for yourself.  Exploring the many HHC and THCa products available here at Wild Orchard Co.