The Difference Between THC, THCO & HHC-And Key Benefits


  • THCO and HHC are relatively new types of cannabinoids that have been synthesized to produce a stronger and more potent high than THC.
  • Unlike THC, THCO and HHC are not naturally occurring in cannabis plants, but are created through a chemical process.
  • These cannabinoids have potential benefits such as pain relief, anxiety reduction, and increased creativity, but more research is needed.

How many new cannabinoids have you seen popping up in your favorite dispensary or online vape shops? Many of these new cannabinoids are actually just variants of classic THC. 

THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, but it’s not the only one. There are other compounds like THCO and HHC that are close relatives to THC, but have some unique differences in both their effect and legality. 

Here’s everything you need to know about these new cannabinoids. 

What Are Cannabinoids 

There are over 100 different known cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis plants. These include popular favorites like CBD and THC, but they also include a few lesser-known cannabinoids like HHC and THCO. 

Cannabinoids are responsible for the physical and psychological effects of the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids like THC are responsible for the psychoactive high while others like CBD are being connected with reduced inflammation. 

Cannabinoids work in the body by acting on the endocannabinoid system. This is a natural system in the human body that detects the presence of cannabinoids. Cannabinoids act by either binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors or blocking other chemicals from binding to those receptors. 

In their natural state, these cannabinoids are typically enjoyed together when individuals either smoke or eat cannabis or hemp plants. However, these cannabinoids can also now be isolated by using cutting-edge chemistry to extract or synthesize them. 

The Quick Answer: THC, THCO, and HHC Differences 

If you’re looking for a quick answer to the differences between THC, THCO, and HHC, we have you covered.

THC is the classic cannabinoid that’s responsible for getting people high. It also has medical benefits that can include reducing anxiety as well as helping people with pain management. THC is still illegal on the federal level as well as illegal in some states.

HHC is a chemically altered form of THC made by hydrogenating THC molecules. HHC was first discovered in the 1940s, but it’s gotten very little attention until recently. HHC is considered to be half as strong, or less, than THC. 

THCO is super-charged THC. There isn’t solid research on this yet, but the general community understanding says that THCO is about 3 times as strong as regular THC. People often comment on the psychedelic and spiritual effects of THCO. 

THC, THCO, and HHC Compared 

If you’re looking for the full details, we’ve got everything you need to know about these cannabinoids. 


THC, more properly known as Delta 9-THC, is the classic cannabinoid that’s found in most cannabis vapes as well as edibles. Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed on the most popular cannabinoid.

THC Legality

THC is in a complicated legal position. It’s currently legal for medicinal use and recreational use in some states while being illegal in others.

THC is currently federally illegal. However, recent comments from President Biden seem to suggest that they’re moving towards a federal legal framework for cannabis products including THC extracts.

We’re currently still in a very exciting time where THC legalization is spreading throughout the country but has still to reach some states and some communities. 

THC Effects

The effects of THC vary depending on the particular individual as well as the strength of the products involved.

THC can have a euphoric effect, help individuals relax and fall asleep, and can even be used to help individuals with anxiety.

THC also has side effects like anxiety, paranoia, and nausea. It is not possible to fatally overdose on THC or any other cannabinoid. 

THC Dosing

THC can have surprisingly powerful effects. We always recommend that individuals start with a low dose of around 2 mg to 2.5 mg of THC. Once you get some experience with THC products, you can slowly raise that dose until you’re getting your desired effects.

Microdosing is a popular way of enjoying THC without it getting you high. This is often used to get medicinal benefits from cannabis. Microdosing depends on your personal tolerance, but it’s typically less than 2 mg. 

Medical Uses of THC

THC has the most well-researched medicinal benefits out of any cannabinoid.

Studies have linked THC to improved outcomes for pain management, an appetite boost, and even better outcomes for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that other cannabinoids, like CBD, are more effective when they’re also in the presence of THC. 

Safety of THC

Researchers consider THC to be very safe. THC has mild side effects like hunger, nausea, anxiety, and potentially paranoia. THC has not been linked to any severe medical outcomes. 

How THC Shows Up on Drug Tests

Here’s something that most people don’t know about drug tests.

Drug tests typically don’t actually look for the drugs themselves. They’re actually looking for the chemicals that the drugs break down into after they’ve been digested. These chemicals are known as metabolites.

THC will definitely show up in drug tests even in small amounts. 

Where to Buy THC

THC can only be legally purchased in states where recreational or medicinal cannabis is legal. THC products must be bought at registered dispensaries. 


THCO is a very unique cannabinoid. It’s often called the “Psychedelic Cannabinoid” because of its intensely psychoactive highs. THCO is created by exposing THC to acetic anhydride in a complicated, and dangerous, chemical reaction. THCO is also called THC-O acetate or ATHC.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about THCO. 

THCO Legality

THCO is in the most complicated position when it comes to its legality.

Technically speaking, THCO is both a synthetic form of THC as well as a hemp extract.

This means that THCO is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, THCO is also illegal because it is a synthetic form of THC.

As you can see, THCO is in a legal gray area that makes it difficult to say whether or not it’s legal or illegal. This is going to depend heavily on your local jurisdiction including your state and city governments.

Until we get Federal legalization for cannabis products, THCO and other similar cannabinoids are going to be in a complicated space when it comes to their legal status. 

The Effects of THCO

Here’s where everything starts to get really interesting. THCO is considered to be about 3 times stronger than regular THC.

Were used to most cannabinoids being generally less powerful than THC, but this form of THC is actually much more potent.

Individuals who use THCO have experienced psychedelic and even spiritual effects. It’s intensely powerful even at lower doses. 

How to Dose THCO

THCO is still relatively new so it’s difficult to say what a good beginner should do. If it is about 3 times stronger than regular THC, then a good starter dose would be somewhere between 0.3 mg and 1 mg. However, THCO is still very new which means that the community is still coming to a consensus on what a good baseline of this cannabinoid should be.

Given that this cannabinoid is much more powerful than regular THC, it’s good to stick to the age-old advice of going low and slow with your THCO dosing. 

Medical Uses of THCO

THCO has not had the same kind of medical research as other cannabinoids. We can guess that it might be very useful for individuals who need more potent effects than regular THC can deliver in smaller doses. This means that it could have a lot of potential when it comes to pain management, but the research on this particular cannabinoid is still ongoing. 

Safety of THCO 

There’s been a lot of talk about the safety of THCO. Given how potent this cannabinoid is, does it pose any serious risks?

There are two things that we need to look at when it comes to the potential risks of THCO. The first is how it is currently being received in the cannabis community as well as the research that’s been done into this kind of cannabinoid.

The community consensus seems to suggest that THCO is a safe cannabinoid. Given how strong it is, individuals run the risk of the same side effects of THC, but much more intense. It could also be easier to have a bad high with THCO because of how easy it would be to take a dose that’s much higher than an individual was hoping for.

With that said, scientific research is still out when it comes to the overall safety of THCO. While THC and other cannabinoids are considered to be very safe, synthetic cannabinoids like THCO have yet to get the same scientific attention. 

Does THCO Show Up On Drug Tests

There Is a very strong chance that THCO is going to show up on your drug test. THCO is an acetate of regular THC which means it’s going to share a lot of the same metabolites as THC.

In a sense, any drug test that can check for THC is also going to be able to check for THCO. 

Where to Buy THCO

You can buy THCO vapes as well as THCO edibles at cannabis and CBD retailers in your community. As long as your state has legal cannabis or hasn’t cracked down on CBD or gone against the 2018 Farm Bill, THCO should be easy to buy either online or in a store near you. 


HHC is technically known as hexahydrocannabinol. It’s made by using a process called hydrogenation where an extra hydrogen molecule is bound to another compound. HHC is considered to be about 75% as strong as regular THC.

So, how does HHC stack up when compared to THC and THCO?

HHC Legality

We should first start by looking at the legality of HHC. The same 2018 Farm Bill that made THCO legal also made HHC legal on the federal level.

Just like with other hemp-derived cannabinoids, HHC is now legal nationwide, but some states and cities are cracking down against these legal cannabinoids.

As federal legalization starts to build and cannabis becomes more popular, there’s a good chance we’ll see HHC becoming more popular. 

What are the HHC Effects

HHC has about the same effects as regular THC. However, HHC is noticeably weaker than regular Delta 9-THC.

A lot of people compare HHC to Delta 8 THC. Both of these cannabinoids are considered to be less powerful versions of regular THC with a few differences between the two. HHC is just a little bit stronger than Delta 8 THC which makes it a lot closer to regular cannabis.

HHC is going to have a very similar effect to regular THC. Individuals are going to experience euphoria, physical and mental relaxation, and all the psychoactive effects that come with traditional cannabis high. 

HHC Dosing

The dosing for HHC should follow about the same rules as the dosing for regular THC. This means starting off somewhere between 2 mg and 5 mg and then working your way up until you’re experiencing the high or medicinal effects that you’re looking for.

Even though HHC is less powerful than regular THC, it’s still a good idea to start slow and work your way up toward your desired dose. It’s easy to go overboard with these cannabinoids that are less powerful versions of tradition than traditional THC. 

HHC Medical Uses

HHC is a great candidate for medicinal cannabis. Here’s why.

Since HHC is so similar to regular THC, they’re going to have very similar benefits when it comes to how they can be used medically. HHC has one big advantage of a regular THC and that is that it is less likely to make individuals as high.

Individuals who are looking for a medicinal benefit for their cannabis use aren’t always looking to get high. This means that types of THC that are less potent can still deliver on medical benefits, but without creating a distracting high that might limit their medical utility. 

The Safety of HHC

HHC is also a relatively new cannabinoid which means that there’s a lot about it that we don’t know. However, we can learn from what the community is reporting as well as make some educated guesses based on the safety of similar cannabinoids.

HHC comes with the same general risks as regular THC. This includes the familiar side effects of anxiety, paranoia, and even nausea or digestive discomfort. 

Just remember to start with an easygoing dose and slowly work your way up and HHC will deliver a safe and comfortable experience. 

Does HHC Show up on Drug Tests

HHC is closely related to THC which means, you guessed it, HHC is going to have the same, or similar, metabolites as THC. This means that HHC will be showing up in drug tests.

Play it safe when enjoying these new cannabinoids if there is a drug test in the near future. 

Where to Buy HHC

HHC often comes in vapes as well as HHC edibles. You can buy an HHC vape cart from an online retailer as well as an in-person shop. Just make sure that wherever you’re buying has third-party laboratory testing for their HHC products.

Third-party laboratory testing ensures that your products are pure, free from any harmful chemicals, and of the highest quality you can get.

Danny Blanton
Danny Blanton
Danny Blanton, a seasoned writer with a decade of industry experience, offers expert reviews on vaping products and cannabis topics, ensuring our readers receive accurate, up-to-date, and valuable insights.

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