Ever since the hemp market boom following the Farm Bill of 2018, which legalized hemp and all of its derivatives at the federal level, the world of cannabinoids has expanded tremendously. Two compounds, in particular, have piqued the interest of cannabis users around the nation, especially in the gummy form: delta 8 and HHC. But what exactly are these compounds, and are delta 8 gummies more potent than HHC gummies?
Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8 THC, is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in marijuana and hemp plants. The cannabinoid's chemical structure is similar to that of its close relative, delta 9, or THC, cannabis' main psychoactive compound. Their molecular structures differ only by one carbon atom: delta 8 has an eighth double bond, whereas delta 9 has a ninth double bond.
While delta 8 is an analog of delta 9, their atomic bond arrangements make them behave differently. Some research suggests delta 8 does not cause anxiety or paranoia as frequently as delta 9, as it is half as powerful.
The main selling point of delta 8 is that it provides a psychoactive experience similar to delta 9, but with a dramatically reduced risk of paranoia and anxiety. In contrast to regular THC, delta 8's high is moderate and manageable, allowing users to experience a buzz without feeling completely groggy.
While delta 8 is often referred to as "diet weed," it has many of the same properties as delta 9 but is less potent. These effects include:
With delta 8, you will still feel relaxed and relieved of pain, but your mind will remain at peace, and you will remain clear-headed. You can use a lower dose of delta 8 to get your mind in a productive state, while a higher dose will deeply calm you.
Although delta 8 has milder effects than regular THC, it can still cause some of the adverse effects commonly associated with it. Even though dry mouths and red eyes can be soothed with hydration and eye drops, some other, slightly more serious adverse effects may occur, such as short-term memory loss and slow or rapid heartbeats.
The good news about delta 8 is that its mild psychoactive nature is also responsible for its manageable side effects. Delta 8 is often referred to as "delta 9's nicer younger sibling" since it does not appear to commonly cause some of its more uncomfortable and disorienting side effects, such as anxiety and paranoia. Even when it does, these effects are mild and manageable.
HHC, short for hexahydrocannabinol, is a hemp-derived cannabinoid found naturally in the cannabis plant, but only in trace amounts. HHC is essentially a hydrogenated version of THC. As a result of hydrogenation, HHC is less prone to oxidation, heat, and UV light than delta 9.
Despite its seeming novel nature, HHC was first discovered in 1944 by American chemist Roger Adams, who added hydrogen atoms to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, effectively creating HHC for the first time. Hydrogenation involves adding hydrogen molecules to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which results in a more stabilized compound. This process leaves delta 9’s properties virtually unchanged, but slightly reduces the potency of the resulting compound, making HHC about 70-80% as strong as regular THC.
According to Roger Brown, the president and founder of ACS Laboratory, HHC is now typically derived from hemp cannabinoids like delta 8, rather than the conventional marijuana-derived THC that Adams used back then.
While HHC has many potential benefits, it hasn't been extensively tested like THC and CBD, so its true potential isn't clear. Despite this, the outlook for HHC and its benefits appears promising.
A 1977 study tested HHC on rats. Researchers found that cannabinoids shared some properties with narcotic painkillers, but some significant differences existed. Thirty years later, in 2007, a second study tested hexahydrocannabinol on mice. According to researchers, HHC extended sleeping times by between 80% and 700%. Furthermore, HHC had similar effects on the mice as delta 9, but with less potent therapeutic benefits.
Several years later, researchers studied two HHC analogs, LYR-7 and LYR-8, which they found might prevent or stop tumor cell growth and angiogenesis, a crucial step in cancer development. According to a 2010 study, HHC manifested for longer periods of time in rats than other cannabinoids.
HHC's other potential benefits include:
There doesn’t exist much research on the side effect of HHC. Apart from the few scattered studies mentioned below, the scientific community doesn’t really know much about hydrogenated cannabinoids. That said, some anecdotal evidence suggests that HHC has fairly similar side effects to THC, such as:
Because of the lack of research on HHC, we don’t know exactly how likely these side effects are or whether the compound has any long-term effects. That said, since the cannabinoid is so structurally similar to THC, we can accurately assume that the compound’s safety profile is comparable to that of THC, meaning it likely has no serious long-term health effects.
Delta 8 and HHC are both available in many different products ranging from edibles and capsules to topicals and tinctures, both compounds are most popular in gummy form. But which compound is stronger? Delta 8 is about half as potent as delta 9, while HHC is around 70-80% as strong as the same compound. This makes HHC more potent than delta 8, and therefore HHC gummies more potent than delta 8 gummies.
That said, delta 8 gummies are much stronger than delta 8 disposable vapes or carts—edibles will make delta 8’s effects feel stronger and last longer than other ingestion methods. This isn't the case with HHC, however. Some researchers believe that HHC most likely has a higher bioavailability when vaped or inhaled compared to edibles, meaning your body absorbs more HHC when vaped than when eaten. So, despite the differences in potency between the two compounds, they may not feel so different when taken in edible form.
HHC is slightly stronger than delta 8, so it would make sense that HHC gummies are stronger than delta 8 gummies. Because delta 8 edibles turn into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is stronger than delta 9, however, delta 8 gummies are likely stronger than HHC gummies.
Although this isn't the case with HHC, most tetrahydrocannabinols like delta 8 and delta 9 have much stronger and longer-lasting effects when eaten. If you’ve ever experimented with edibles, you probably already know they take a lot longer to kick in but give you a more intense effect for a longer period of time than other ingestion methods. But why is this the case?
It may take up to two hours for delta 8 gummies to reach the bloodstream since they must first bypass the digestive system. Vapes or oils, on the other hand, enter the bloodstream directly by being absorbed by the lungs or mouth veins, so they usually start to take effect within minutes. Although these methods can produce effects lasting a few hours, delta 8 gummies produce effects usually lasting from eight to ten hours, depending on the dosage.
Once the gummies reach the stomach, they are broken down into different compounds. From there, delta 8 travels to the liver, where it is converted into a metabolite known as 11-hydroxy-THC, which is much stronger than delta 8 and delta 9. From the liver, the 11-hydroxy-THC travels through the bloodstream and into the brain, where it causes potent and long-lasting psychoactive effects.
This can make dosing edibles a little more complicated than dosing psychoactive compounds in other forms. Oftentimes, users believe they took too little gummies after an hour of no effects, but the truth is that your delta 8 and HHC are just making their way through your body and finding their way into your bloodstream. Be sure to wait at least one or two hours before going back for seconds.
As a rule of thumb, be sure to always start low and slow and build your way up to the perfect and most comfortable high for you. It may seem a little tedious to go through this testing process, but it’s very much worth it if it means avoiding a negative psychoactive experience.
Delta 8 gummies and HHC gummies both offer many effects and benefits. HHC is about 60-70% as potent as delta 9 but is most potent when ingested. Delta 8 on the other hand, is about half as strong as delta 9 but feels its strongest when taken in edible form. Because delta 8 turns into 11-hydroxy-THC when eaten, however, delta 8 gummies are likely stronger than HHC gummies.