HHC and Drug Tests: Can HHC Fail A Drug Test?

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HHC is among the recent hemp-derived cannabinoids hitting the cannabis market. The 2018 Farm Bill makes psychoactive cannabinoids from hemp plants like HHC legal on a federal level. Although HHC is famous for being a federally legal psychoactive compound, its popularity stems primarily from the assumption that it does not appear in drug screening.

Anecdotal evidence from HHC fans suggests that it does not appear in tests like the standard urine tests. However, there is insufficient official research supporting this observation. So, does HHC trigger false positive or positive results in a test? Find out below.

What Is HHC?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is among the minor cannabinoids occurring naturally in the hemp plant and triggers psychoactive effects. Its psychoactive properties are the primary reason why cannabis enthusiasts consume HHC.

HHC is among the legal alternative cannabinoids or delta-9 THC analogs. An analog is an organic or chemical compound sharing a similar chemical structure and molecular weight to a second compound but with different atom arrangements.

Therefore, HHC and delta-9 THC are analogs. However, while delta-9 features a double bond to induce psychoactivity, HHC uses two hydrogen molecules to trigger psychoactivity.

Given that HHC’s effects are similar to THC’s, it is probable that the body breaks down both cannabinoids into similar byproducts (metabolites). Identified THC metabolites include THC COOH (carboxy THC) and hydroxy THC.

The metabolites stay in your system and are detectable using drug testing kits. However, more research is necessary to establish whether HHC produces THC COOH and hydroxy THC or a slightly different metabolite.

Although HHC occurs naturally in the hemp plant, it occurs in trace amounts that make commercial extraction non-viable. Therefore, cannabis companies producing HHC products utilize industrial-scale hydrogenation reactions to generate enough extract to infuse into such products.

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Will HHC Show Up On An HHC Drug Test?

A standard test, specifically standard urine tests, detect controlled substances or scheduled drugs as stipulated in the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana features among the banned substances, but hemp and products derived from hemp plants, like HHC, are federally legal according to the 2018 Farm Bill.

Minimum research exists on HHC and drug tests. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that HHC does not show up in standard drug tests and that you can take it even if you have an upcoming drug test.

So, will HHC show up in a drug test? The jury is still on whether its metabolites are detectable during sobriety tests. However,  below are essential points to note:

HHC Vs. THC Metabolites:

A standard drug test exclusively screens for Schedule I controlled substances. However, such tests screen for the metabolites created by the body after drug consumption rather than the Schedule I drug itself; follow-up lab tests also screen for drug metabolites.

The metabolites created have a longer half-life than the drug in question and will show up on the tests long after drug consumption. Therefore, standard cannabis drug tests or a drug test explicitly created to detect THC or HHC cannabinoid drug test do not exist.

Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, breaks down into the THC metabolite THC COOH or carboxy THC. Other known metabolites identified using tests include THC carboxy and 11-OH-THC; a THC molecule breaks down into approximately 80 known metabolites.

HHC is a THC analog that retains most of delta-9 THC’s properties, including the metabolites produced by liver enzymes. Body metabolizes HHC into THC COOH, so HHC shows even if you take the cannabinoid for a medical condition.

The THC metabolites that HHC metabolizes into are lipophylic and become absorbed into your fat cells, and are detectable on HHC cannabinoid drug tests for up to weeks. According to one study, THC COOH is detectable during testing for at least three days after delta-9 THC consumption or consuming other substances containing THC or that produce the metabolite. Therefore, taking HHC before an upcoming test increases the likelihood that you will test positive for THC drug use.

HHC Products Are Cross Contaminated With THC:

Most cannabis brands that produce HHC -infused products also produce THC compounds derived from federally legal hemp plants, including delta-8 THC. Therefore, cross-contamination of HHC-infused products with THC is possible, given that the factory may use similar production lines for HHC and THC products. Although the probability in such a scenario is that only trace amounts of THC can contaminate HHC, the trace amount could be enough to trigger a false positive drug test.

Ideally, credible brands can detect production line cross-contamination during third-party lab tests conducted to ensure product quality. However, unscrupulous cannabis brands may not submit their products for independent lab testing, allowing cross-contaminated HHC products into the market.

Repeatedly taking cross-contaminated HHC consumables increases the likelihood of it appearing in your drug test due to THC metabolites. Your fat cells can cause THC accumulation from the contaminated products. However, you can contest false positives in regular drug tests by requesting follow-up lab tests.

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How Long Does HHC Stay In the Human System?

HHC is lipophilic and dissolves in fats and oils. Consequently, the cannabinoid dissolves in the fat cells constituting adipose tissue pending delayed excretion preceded by enzymatic metabolism in the liver to produce THC COOH and other metabolites.

However, besides your personal sensitivity, adipose tissue, and fat cells, other factors or pharmacokinetics affect how long the cannabinoid can stay in your system. Find out more about the factors affecting HHC’s stay in your system below.

Factors That Affect How Long HHC Stays In The System:

Experts estimate that HHC can stay in your system for at least three days. However, both HHC and delta-9 THC produce the same compounds post enzymatic metabolism, which remains detectable in bodily fluids for extended periods due to the following.

How Often Do You Use HHC:

HHC use frequency affects how long the cannabinoid remains in your system due to its lipophilic quality. Continous HHC absorption into the fatty tissue from continuous use means accumulation and elevated levels.

Higher Dosage Of HHC Stays In The System For Longer Duration:

Taking higher HHC doses means it takes the body significantly longer to expel it. Higher doses mean more HHC becomes absorbed in the adipose tissue. Moreover, higher HHC concentrations are more likely detectable using HHC drug tests due to a higher THC COOH volume and other compounds.

HHC Can Get Eliminated Quickly In Younger Individuals System:

Age is another crucial factor in cannabinoid pharmacokinetics, including the HHC drug. According to one study, the liver experiences a gradual shrink in mass and reduced blood flow with aging. Therefore, first-pass metabolism for cannabinoids requiring intensive first-pass metabolism becomes slower.

Essentially, delayed or prolonged metabolism means the body takes more time to eliminate HHC. Therefore, age potentially increases HHC’s body concentrations, but younger consumers can eliminate it from their systems faster.

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Vaping And Smoking Stay In The System For Least Amount Of Time:

The HHC consumption method also affects the drug’s half-life. For starters, HHC consumed via inhalation like vapes and smokables have a shorter half-life than HHC consumed via ingestion.

Vaped and smoked HHC products bypass the first-pass metabolism because the lung’s air sacs transport inhaled HHC directly into the bloodstream. Therefore, vaping HHC may be a better way to consume the cannabinoid if you want to avoid HHC drug test detection in an upcoming drug test.

Few Medicines Might Slow Down The Capability To Eliminate HHC:

Drugs competing with HHC for the first pass in the liver can lengthen the cannabinoid’s half-life. According to one literature review, some medications inhibit the cytochrome p540 enzyme, essential in eliminating compounds like cannabinoids from the body. Such medications include seizure and arrhythmia medications like amiodarone and carbamazepine.

Type Of Test Used To Detect It:

Urine tests are the generic drug testing kits used to detect cannabinoids. While urine tests can detect HHC metabolites for up to three days, a more potent drug test like a hair sample drug test can detect THC COOH for up to 11 weeks.

How Does HHC Metabolize?

HHC and delta-9 THC share the same chemical structure and undergo first-pass metabolism in the liver. According to one study on comparative in vitro cannabinoid metabolism, THC and HHC metabolites’ results are almost similar. The study concluded that the cytochrome p50 enzyme has a greater bearing on the metabolite type than the double bond on a cannabinoid.

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Does HHC Make You High?

Does HHC contain THC to make you “high?”

No. However, it shares delta-9 THC’s psychoactive properties. Like delta-9 THC, HHC interacts with both CB receptors in the ECS to induce mental and physiological changes that manifest as a “high.” However, HHC has a lower affinity to the receptors and, as such, does not overstimulate them, causing undesirable side effects.

Anecdotal evidence from consumers describes an HHC “high” as the perfect balance between euphoria and relaxation. However, the cannabinoid triggers individual-specific effects, and the cannabis strain’s terpenes also influence the “high.”

Wrap Up – Can HHC Fail A Drug Test

The answer to this question is a strong maybe. Although the arguments on cross-contamination and shared metabolites hold, official research does not support either argument definitively. Therefore, more research is necessary to establish whether HHC can produce a positive result. So, it’s better to avoid HHC if you have an upcoming interview or anything that requires you to be drug tested.

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