Delta-8-THC is an isomer of delta-9-THC and the two molecules have some striking similarities. However, they have one major difference; the placement of the double bond in their chemical structure. This accounts for the differences in how the two molecules interact with the endocannabinoid system and the kind of effects that they produce. That said, does this difference make one superior to the other and in that case in what ways?
The “high effect”
Both delta 8 and delta 9 can trigger feelings of euphoria by interacting with CB1 receptors in the brain. THC has a high affinity for CB1 receptors and will cause strong feelings of euphoria when consumed in high doses. Delta 8 on the other hand has a moderate affinity for CB1 receptors. Consequently, it causes a milder form of euphoria.
Recreational users may achieve a greater sense of euphoria from delta 9 as compared to delta 8. In this regard, delta 9 may appear superior to delta 8.
There is more research and scientific evidence about the therapeutic effects of delta-9 THC, being the “older” molecule, than delta- 8 THC. However, preliminary evidence has shown significant potential for both molecules.
The most notable therapeutic benefits of delta-9 THC include: 
- Pain control
- Appetite stimulation
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting
- Anorexia and weight loss
- Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Sleep disorders
- Appetite stimulation and antiemetic effects
- Neuroprotective effects
- Pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects
For now, it appears that delta-9 offers more therapeutic benefits when compared to delta-8 THC. However, future research on delta-8 may show a different picture.
Anxiety and Paranoia
Delta-8, being less potent, is less likely to cause anxiety and paranoia when consumed. Additionally, while the effects of delta-9 set in quite rapidly, delta-8 is a slow kicker. This has contributed to the popularity of delta-8 as the psychoactive cannabinoid that’s better tolerated by most people.
Under federal law, hemp is legal while marijuana remains illegal. For hemp to be considered as legal in the US, it must contain less than 0.3% of delta 9. Thus, delta-9 cannot be obtained from hemp legally. Delta 8 on the other hand can be synthesized from hemp-derived CBD. Technically speaking, this makes hemp derived delta-8 legal, which is not the case for delta 9.
Is the “legal” molecule superior to the illegal molecule?
The legality of delta-8 has been voraciously disputed, for good reason. But before the dust settles, delta-8 will continue to enjoy a superior status to delta-9, for as far as legality goes.
1- The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 4, Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/
2- Thapa, D., Cairns, E. A., Szczesniak, A. M., Toguri, J. T., Caldwell, M. D., & Kelly, M. (2018). The Cannabinoids Δ8THC, CBD, and HU-308 Act via Distinct Receptors to Reduce Corneal Pain and Inflammation. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 11–20.
3- Abrahamov, A., Abrahamov, A., & Mechoulam, R. (1995). An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology. Life sciences, 56(23-24), 2097–2102.