What is “HHC”, a synthetic derivative of cannabis and legal in France?


It is the new darling of shops dedicated to CBD. Synthetic derivative of cannabis, “HHC” – abbreviation for Hexahydrocannabinol – is sold over the counter even though it has the same effects as THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, which is prohibited in France. What makes them different? Why is HHC not yet classified as a narcotic? Is it dangerous ? For Europe 1, Doctor Philippe Batel, psychiatrist and addictologist, returns to the vagueness that accompanies this synthetic molecule.

Marketing strategy

“In fact the major success of this drug is its attractiveness and the marketing presented in this way. In reality, we do not know exactly what is happening. A priori, there are few psychotropic effects but rather relaxation, feeling of well-being. So yes, it’s a kind of THC, but a priori less powerful”, advances the specialist. There are nearly 150 cannabinoids. And for the moment, according to the doctor, there is a legal vacuum that casts doubt on HHC and its classification as a “drug”.

“It is however classified as narcotic in several European countries, such as Finland, Estonia and Austria, but not yet in France. We really want there to be a common public health policy around drugs at European level “, laments the doctor. Because if the effects are little known scientifically, there are a number of undesirable side effects, or at least worrying, which have been reported, he recalls.

Worrying side effects

“We have the cannabinoid effects: a certain disinhibition, a decrease in the state of consciousness. And therefore, we can take a certain number of risks, such as driving a vehicle for example. But we have specific tests which have been reported, which are cardiac effects with in particular tachycardia”, describes Philippe Batel.

These effects can be accompanied in more rare cases by an increase in anxiety but also by digestive disorders and nausea. We are therefore far from the promise of relaxation offered by the sellers of HHC. Not to mention the risks of addiction and overdose, which are closely monitored by the health authorities. All call for vigilance.

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