Hemp-derived HHC is the latest but probably not the last intoxicating cannabinoid shipping to nearly all states to hit the market.
But, for those of us with bloodshot eyes and the possibility of an upcoming drug screen, is there such a thing as an HHC drug test and if not will HHC make you fail a drug test for marijuana?
It’s complicated, but in short, yes, you can fail a drug screen by using HHC. But, more positively, multiple dependencies influence the result, of which some are in your control.
Keep on reading for the science and the details.
HHC Is Not THC
HHC or Hexahydrocannabinol is not THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol. Despite the similarities in their names, they are two distinct compounds.
Cannabis drug tests look for the presence of THC metabolites throughout the body, and they can detect it in your hair, saliva, sweat, blood, and urine, with oral swabs and urinalysis being the most common types.
The reason employers and other agencies require a test is because Delta-9-THC is a Schedule 1 drug in the United States. Employers that are even partially federally funded need to comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.
According to the DEA, Schedule 1 means it is a substance or chemical that is defined as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse.
This label is still in effect, despite the legalization of cannabis in more than seventeen states. And then there is the growing popularity of alternative cannabinoids that is creating a whole new industry for lovers of THC, CBD, and the dizzying number of other analogs, including HHC.
HHC isn’t a form of THC, and a cannabis drug test does not explicitly look for this compound.
It is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid that occurs in trace amounts in the hemp plant it is derived from. Although, the HHC products on the market are created in a lab through chemical processing or, more specifically, through hydrogenation.
Hydrogenation is when two hydrogen atoms are added to the double bonds of the THC molecule, essentially saturating the THC molecule with hydrogen.
This hydrogen saturation makes the molecule more stable and changes its molecular weight and geometry.
Consuming Any Cannabinoid Product Could Make You Fail A Drug Test
On the topic of analogs and similarities between Hemp-derived cannabinoids, it’s important to note that multiple kinds of THC are found in the cannabis plant family.
Consume a product containing any THC without abstaining long enough, and you will likely fail a typical drug screen looking for THC-COOH – the molecule any form of THC breaks down into when digested.
Below are the three most common kinds of Hemp derived Delta THC you will find on the market today:
- Delta-9-THC in my experience has the most intense psychotropic effects, and it can affect your thought process, short term memory, motor coordination, and make you feel hungry.
- Delta-8-THC, in my experience, this kind of THC usually does not have effects like anxiety and paranoia but still provides you with a mellow buzz and other benefits like appetite stimulation and relaxation.
- Delta-10-THC. I’d describe this as being more like a sativa and something which usually promotes my creative side. It also has euphoric effects, and I would tend to consume it most in the daytime.
Cross Contamination Risks
While most HHC products state that they are free from THC, the risk here is from cross-contamination, creating a combo of THC + HHC.
It’s essential to remember that the Hemp Industry isn’t regulated like recreational or cannabis markets. Vendors can state whatever they want to entice you to purchase their products and as such, HHC being completely free of THC, even outside of trace levels, is improbable.
However, in theory, if you have consumed only HHC and zero THC, you should be able to evade drug tests looking for THC.
The safest way to do this would be to buy HHC Isolate, as this would be the purest form of the cannabinoid and absent of other cannabinoids.
Keep in mind there is no clinical evidence around this topic, and all speculation is only anecdotal at this point. So consume at your own risk, if at all.
The crux of the issue here is that any trace amount of THC in your system could lead to the failure of the drugs screen.
So be sure not to consume any form of THC, including Delta-8-THC and Delta-10-THC.
Generally, you can never be sure what you are getting is 100% THC-free.
Even if your certificate of analysis says otherwise, the limits of detection on these lab tests are often much less accurate than the limits for THC in drug testing.
How Marijuana Drug Testing Works
For oral THC tests, there must be actual THC in a person’s saliva for the test to turn out positive.
The test only looks for THC and not the many other cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants.
However, that’s not to say if you consume Delta-8-THC or Delta-10-THC, you won’t end up with a positive result from saliva testing.
So if you have a drug screening coming up, do not use cannabis or other THC variants like THC-O, Delta 8, or any other cannabinoids.
If you are doing a urinalysis or a five-panel urine test, they are looking for a specific compound called a THC metabolite. This metabolite is otherwise known as THC-COOH.
They will give you a urine container for a clean catch urine sample. A clean catch sample means that it is the best way to prevent germs from contaminating the urine sample. It usually requires wiping your genitalia with a cleansing pad prior to urinating and washing your hands.
Then, they may ask you to do the test in front of a medical professional or a trained technician to ensure it is your urine.
When you take your sample, you first start urinating and then move the container into the stream of urine, then remove the container out of the stream once it has reached a certain level. You then finish urinating and deliver the container to the technician.
Once completed, they will test the urine using a 5 or 10-panel drug test, usually with a dipstick. If you test positive, they may require further screening to ensure it is not a false positive for the THC-COOH metabolite. But false positives are very rare.
THC-COOH is just one of THC’s metabolites. If you have this metabolite in your urine, it means that your body has metabolized THC, and the THC-COOH in your urine is the product of that metabolization in your system.
Even though you may have THC metabolites in your urine, they cannot use this test to determine how often you are using THC, how much you have consumed, or whether you smoked it, ate it in edible form, or vaped it in a cartridge.
As for other types of drug tests for THC, these can include a saliva test, where they rub a swab inside your cheek and then test the swab for THC.
Then there are blood tests that require you to have a sample drawn for your arm, just like any other standard blood test. It is relatively painless and takes only a few minutes to do by a trained professional.
Lastly, there is the hair test. It is usually taken from the scalp, but if the person does not have hair on their head, they can take a hair sample from other parts of your body, like your underarms, chest, or other pubic areas.
Does HHC Show Up On A Drug Test?
Marijuana drug tests do not test for HHC.
As mentioned, they test for THC metabolites like THC-COOH, which results in positive tests if this metabolite is found in your system.
Both Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC will break down into THC metabolites, thus making you fail a drugs screen.
So if you know you have a test coming up, you need up to three months (or even more) for all the THC to leave your system, maybe more depending on how heavy of a user you are.
It would be best if you also had this time to detoxify from all other cannabinoids, like Delta-8 and THC-O, as the test will show up as a positive, too.
According to anecdotal evidence, if using HHC exclusively (meaning no other cannabinoids or cannabis), theoretically, you shouldn’t fail a test.
But keep in mind that there is no clinical proof that you won’t fail drug testing if you consume HHC. This means that it is risky if you have to take a test, and abstinence from all cannabinoids is your best bet.
However, when browsing the forums, some people claimed that even by exclusively consuming HHC, they were still getting positive results for THC metabolites.
They even took a test prior, which showed negative, used an HHC cartridge, and then retook the test, and this time it showed positive.
So make sure you keep cannabis and its cannabinoids out of your system if you are required to do drug testing.
How long does HHC stay in your system?
At the moment, there is no data available from any clinical studies as to how long HHC stays in the human body.
But, if we use D9 THC as a proxy and assume the same timelines, cannabis can be detected in bodily fluids for 1-30 days or more after your last use.
But it all comes down to how much you smoke or ingest and how often you use. High dosages and frequent use usually result in longer detection times.
For daily users, who use it multiple times a day, it can be detected for several months, with the longest reported detection time being more than 90 days.
This is because these metabolites like THC-COOH can remain in your system long after the effects of THC have worn off.
THC can be found in urine for the following periods of time after your last use of the drug.
- Occasional users (up to three times a week): 3 days
- Moderate users (four times a week): 5-7 days
- Chronic users (daily use): 10-15 days
- Chronic heavy users (multiple times a day: more than 30 days
Remember that cannabis metabolites are fat-soluble and bind to your body’s fat molecules. This fact is why it takes time to leave your system, and your body weight and metabolism also play a crucial factor in how long it will take for THC to leave your body entirely.
For saliva testing, cannabis is detectable in occasional users (3-4 times a week) for 1-3 days, while it can be detected for 1-29 days for daily users.
In blood, THC can be detected for 48 hours. However, there have been cases where it is found in the bloodstream for up to 25 days.
We have yet to see whether this can be applied to HHC but remember it is best to be safe than sorry when it comes to drug testing.
Hair follicle testing can find trace amounts of THC metabolites that remain in the hair. They can assess your drug use for up to 90 days from a 1.5 inch cut of hair from your scalp.
How long it takes for THC to metabolize depends on your organ function and fatty tissues. This is because THC is temporarily stored in organs like the liver, where they are broken down into over 80 metabolites, with the primary metabolites being THC-COOH and 11-OH-THC.
They look for these metabolites since they remain in your body for a long time after you put down your last joint.
Factors that affect how long THC stays in your system depend on age, gender, body mass index (BMI), and how your body metabolizes it.
The frequency of use is also a factor, with higher doses and usage requiring significantly more time to eliminate THC from your system. Cannabis consumed in an edible form may also remain in your system longer than inhaled THC.
Unfortunately, you can do little to metabolize drugs faster and get them out of your system. But exercising, eating properly, and hydrating frequently may help a bit.
Oh, and for another tip, those detoxing kits you can purchase online are a waste of time and money. Sad to say, you’re just going to have to wait it out.
If you just need to know if you will pass, go ahead and buy your own test kit.
The Takeaway: HHC cannabinoid drug test
As we only have anecdotal evidence so far, we cannot be sure whether or not the cannabinoid HHC will make you test positive on a drug test.
We also do not know how long HHC will stay in your body or if it will metabolize into 11-OH-THC or THC-COOH, which will also give you a positive result on your drug test.
So, in short, If you have a drug test and have been using cannabinoids, try to avoid using them for up to three months before the test.
That way, you are more likely to achieve the results you want and pass the test with flying colors.