Ever since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the industry has become saturated with legal psychoactive cannabinoids that all contain a THC content of 0.3% THC or lower. One of the newest psychoactive compounds to hit the market is a little-known compound called HHC. HHC carries similar effects to Delta-9 THC (the active element in marijuana) and is somewhat stronger than the wildly popular Delta-8 THC cannabinoid. HHC is legal on a federal level, which is great news for marijuana enthusiasts who are looking for a legal way to enjoy a heady high. But even though it’s legal, many users wonder, “Can HHC make me fail a drug test?” The answer to this question, along with why, lies in the following paragraphs. Let’s start off with what HHC is and how it reacts with your body’s natural endocannabinoid system.
What is HHC?
HHC, short for Hexahydrocannibinol, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in very small quantities within the hemp plant, specifically the seeds and pollen. In order to make the HHC usable, it must go through an intense hydrogenation process within a laboratory. A hydrogen molecule undergoes saturation, thus converting THC into HHC. HHC is purported to be 70-80% less potent than traditional THC, but still quite a bit stronger than either Delta-8 THC or Delta-10 THC. Despite requiring a precise hydrogenation process, HHC does occur naturally within the hemp plant which allows it to be classified as non-synthetic.
Is HHC Legal?
We mentioned the 2018 Farm Bill in the beginning of this article. In case you’re not familiar with this law, it mandates that as long as a cannabinoid is derived from federally legal hemp and contains 0.3% THC or less, it is legal on a federal level. That being said, there are some states who have their own legislation on the legality of cannabinoid use. Some states even have different laws for various counties within that state, thus adding to the confusion of whether or not you can consume or purchase HHC products. Before attempting to purchase or consume HHC products, it is strongly advised that you check your local state laws.
Can HHC Make Me Fail A Drug Test?
If you have an upcoming drug test, whether it be for continued employment or the initial orientation, you might think you have nothing to worry about. Since HHC is legal, the drug test should reflect that, right? Here’s where it gets tricky. Drug tests (typically urine tests) do not specifically test for which cannabinoid you’ve consumed. Rather, they simply test for the presence of THC metabolites. Since HHC is simply hydrogenated THC molecules, there’s a very good chance that THC metabolites are already present in your system.
But before you start to panic, there are many users who have confirmed they have successfully passed a drug test despite consuming HHC products beforehand. Keep in mind that there is no scientific research that can confirm that HHC will not be detected; rather, it depends on the type of HHC product consumed, how often HHC products are consumed, and which drug test is conducted. Let’s go over some of the most common types of drug tests, reasons they may be administered, and who administers them.
Standard Types of Drug Tests
There are five standard drug tests used by employers, law enforcement, hospitals, probation officers, and more. The accuracy and costs of these tests vary greatly and it depends on what they’re being used for.
Urine tests are the most common method of testing used, thanks to its low costs, ease of use, and high accuracy. Almost all employers and probation officers use urine tests to detect the THC-COOH metabolite, particularly since this metabolite can linger for many weeks after the initial use. These tests can be conducted with an official observer present or behind a thin barrier to prevent tampering.
Saliva tests are predominantly used by police officers and other law enforcement individuals to confirm if a person has been driving under the influence. These types of test can only detect THC if it has been used within the last 10 hours, which makes them somewhat inaccurate. These tests are usually conducted via a cotton swab that scrapes the inside of your cheek.
Blood tests are predominantly conducted in a hospital. If you’ve been admitted into a hospital and are suspected to be under the influence, a blood test can show whether or not you have any HHC currently in your system. These tests do not test for THC metabolites, but rather for current intoxication in your bloodstream. If you are not actively intoxicated when blood is drawn, the test will show up as negative.
Hair tests are the most expensive of all drug tests. The results are extremely accurate but the wait time for the results to come back is quite lengthy. As the substance is processed by your body, the cannabinoid will be present in your hair follicles. Since it takes a very long time for hair to grow, these tests can confirm if HHC was consumed within the last few months, not just weeks. Hair tests are generally conducted in autopsies, but can also be used by law recruiters to vet possible candidates.
Perspiration tests are probably the least likely test you’ll take out of all drug tests. These tests are highly invasive and quite costly, causing them to be used predominantly for clinical research. A patch is attached to the person’s skin and must be worn for two weeks; during that time, the patch will test for THC-COOH metabolites.
When it comes to drug tests for employment, it may be prudent to avoid consuming any HHC products completely. HHC is federally legal but many employers will want to confirm their employees are working in a safe and effective manner during work hours. Depending on the relationship you have with your employer, you may want to advise your employer of your HHC consumption. This may prove to be a double-edged sword if you pass your drug test despite recent consumption of HHC products.
There are many first-hand accounts of HHC users who have taken and passed their drug tests, and there may be some scientific explanation as to why. Some experts speculate that HHC is not converted into THC metabolites (specifically, 11-hydroxy-THC) as the body processes it. Both Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC are converted to this metabolite as your body breaks down the cannabinoid; it is strongly advised to avoid consuming these types of cannabinoids if drug tests are required for continued employment. More scientific research is needed to confirm this theory, but it may encourage users to switch to HHC-infused products.
If you do choose to consume HHC products, you should always check to see if the manufacturer has uploaded the results of independent third-party lab tests. These lab reports (also referred to as Certificate of Authenticity/CoA’s) can confirm if the product contains trace amounts of THC. Full-spectrum products and mixed cannabinoid products are commonly known to include such trace amounts, so be sure to do your research before completing your final purchases.
Just because you’ve consumed HHC does not automatically mean you’ll fail a drug test. However, you should be prepared for the possibility that you may fail. There is currently no research to confirm whether or not HHC will show up in a drug test, even though it has been suggested that HHC is processed differently than cannabinoids that contain THC. There are many types of drug tests that can be administered and for a variety of reasons. Drug tests typically only test for the presence of THC metabolites and will not differentiate between legal or illegal cannabinoids.
If you suspect or know that you will be required to submit to a drug test in the near future, you should cease all use of HHC products just to be safe. Many HHC users have offered their first-hand accounts on successfully passing a drug test, but that doesn’t mean you can expect the same results. Always check the manufacturer’s lab reports before completing your purchase of HHC products to confirm whether or not trace amounts of THC exist.
If you’re looking for THC-free HHC products, check out our Two Hawk Hemp Co. Golden Goat HHC disposable vape (lab results listed here) and our Melon Gum disposable vape (lab results listed here). Feel free to share your experiences with both of these fantastic products in the comments below, and remember that you can always reach out to us here at Erth Hemp with all of your questions and concerns. We look forward to hearing from you!