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Czech Republic To Ban HHC Products Amid Child Hospitalizations

The Czech Republic has temporarily banned HHC products amid the hospitalization of dozens of children.

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The Czech Minister of Agriculture, Marek Výborný, has recently announced that the government has initiated the process of banning HHC products by adding them to the list of prohibited addictive substances. However, local news websites report that the precise start date of the ban remains unclear, pending notification by the European Commission.

With this move, the Czech Republic would become the latest European country to ban HHC products amid growing concern due to hospitalization of children following ingestion.

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid derived from a hydrogenated form of THC through an acid-catalyzed reaction of CBD. The resulting compound includes non-natural THC isomers generated during the hydrogenation process.

HHC has reportedly exhibited effects on the human body similar to the well-known THC. However, unlike THC, HHC currently lacks regulation.

HHC products are available in various forms, such as gummy bears, chocolate, cookies, drinks, and similar items.

Despite its discovery decades ago, HHC gained popularity in the United States only after the 2018 Farm Bill, which indirectly legalized the cultivation of hemp with THC levels below 0.3% and the extraction of its cannabinoids.

In recent years, HHC products have rapidly proliferated throughout Europe, prompting warnings from European Union institutions regarding their potential dangers. Limited research on the substance has fueled concerns, leading several EU member states to implement bans on its use.

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In January, Czech National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil warned in a press release of sweets and confectionary products containing the new semi-synthetic cannabinoid substance HHC being marketed to children as can be bought from street vending machines in the form of candy.

Successively, local authorities disclosed their investigation into the case of individuals hospitalized after consuming candies containing HHC. Incidents of HHC poisoning among children have surged since the start of this year, with adults also affected.

Following the consumption of HHC products, symptoms such as disorders of consciousness, nausea, and mood swings have been reported.

Vobořil has urged manufacturers and vendors of candies containing HHC to remove products from circulation. However, to date, only two retail associations have opted to cease the sale of edible products containing HHC.

Since June 2022, the toxicology center under the Ministry of Health has recorded approximately 170 cases related to these substances.

It is expected that HHC and similar products will be regulated in the future through an amendment to the Act on Addictive Substances, introducing a fresh category for psychoactive substances.

The sales of such substances are proposed to be restricted to staffed stores rather than vending machines. Additionally, individuals under 18 would be prohibited from purchasing these products. Furthermore, advertising for these substances would be banned.

But for now, the Czech Republic's decision to temporarily ban HHC products mirrors a broader global shift towards stricter regulation of cannabinoids.

Given the potential health hazards linked to HHC and the incomplete understanding of its risks, this action is expected to encourage other nations to enact similar measures.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction published in 2022 a report that warned about the presence of HHC in approximately 20 countries of the EU.

Since then, several EU member states have implemented bans. France was among the earliest, prohibiting the production, sale, and usage of HHC and two of its derivatives in June 2023. Additionally, the sale of HHC is banned in France, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Sweden, and Italy, among others.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is developing a plan to legalize adult-use cannabis. In January, the government introduced a bill that would legalize the personal use of cannabis for recreational purposes, but it does not include provisions for the sale of cannabis products.

However, the legalization plan is still under negotiation within political parties and may undergo modifications


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