As in France, hexahydrocannabinol – better known as HHC – is enjoying growing popularity in Austria with people looking for a “legal high”.
However, the country has just banned its production and distribution on the territory, with possession and consumption going unpunished.
According to the statement of the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, this decision aims to protect consumers from potential health risks in the future, scientific knowledge on the short and long-term HGH consumption by humans is still insufficient. The new regulations came into effect on March 23.
Synthesis and health
Like THC and CBD, HHC can be produced naturally by the cannabis plant and results from the process of natural breakdown of THC, although this process results in very residual amounts. The compound used in the different HHC products available on the market is therefore obtained through laboratory hydrogenation processes of cannabis extracts, from CBD, which makes it a semi-synthetic product.
According to Austrian Health Minister Johannes Rauch, “As a new psychoactive substance, the production and marketing of synthetic HHC is prohibited until we have sufficient knowledge about the health consequences. The possible short or long-term health consequences are still unknown,” he said.
Austria is following the position of other European countries and health experts by including HHC in its list of banned substances. Finland has also classified HHC as a new psychotropic substance, just as Switzerland has banned its use, and Belgium and Hungary are expected to do the same soon.