HHC – the first semi-synthetic cannabinoid appears on the European illicit drug market

Diversity on the cannabis market increased further in May 2022, when the first semi-synthetic cannabinoid, hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), was identified as being available in Europe.

HHC is chemically similar to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, and it appears to have broadly similar effects.

However, neither the pharmacology nor the toxicology of HHC in humans has been studied in detail. During 2022, HHC was identified in two thirds of EU Member States, and it has been commercially marketed in some EU Member States and sold as a ‘legal’ alternative to cannabis.

HHC may be sprayed onto or mixed with low-THC herbal cannabis, which may appear and smell similar to illicit cannabis. It has also appeared in vapes and food products. HHC is believed to be synthesised from cannabidiol (CBD), which in turn is extracted from low-THC cannabis (hemp).

Since its emergence, other semi-synthetic cannabinoids have also been detected, suggesting commercial interest in this area. The newness of these cannabis forms and the lack of empirical evidence means that there is considerable uncertainty about the possible impact of these substances on human health.

Continue at:  https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/european-drug-report/2023/drug-situation-in-europe-up-to-2023_en

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