How to Stay Healthy While You're High

Just because you like your special brownies doesn't mean you don't care about your well-being.

Thanks to movies and TV, the red-eyed sugar-hungry stoner stereotype is what many of us equate with weed users. But reality is a little different. When 22-year-old San Francisco resident Heather Hoffman adjusts her hips to perform a yoga asana, she looks like a lean California beach queen. What you can’t see is that she’s also probably high. But she chooses a healthy high.

Hoffman is part of a growing movement of health-conscious cannabis consumers who want to combine their THC intake with organic products, experiencing the benefits of both together. In January 2015, Hoffman and her partner, Issa Madanat, launched a line of edibles catering to this niche. Pura Vida sells both weed granola ($20) and weed protein bars ($10.50) to dispensaries throughout California. The hybrid Cannabis sativa “doesn’t knock you out, and you’re able to stay clear and active,” Hoffman says. (Cannabis sativa is known for its energizing properties, unlike Cannabis indica and its lazy “body high.”) The granola is organic and gluten-free, and the high-fiber bars contain 20 grams of plant-based protein and 100 milligrams of THC, a 25 mg “dose” per quarter.

Other California companies are getting on the healthy-high bandwagon.

“There’s a stigma that stoners are high and lazy and don’t do much,” Hoffman says, and she hopes her products will counter that perception. Four years ago she started using cannabis to treat her epilepsy. Fed up with the side effects of prescription medication, Hoffman began to explore holistic methods. Since moving to marijuana, she says she has been seizure-free. This inspired her to help others change their lives through nutrition. Why not just reach for a pot brownie? Hoffman doesn’t believe you can medicate effectively with homemade treats, plus there’s all that extra sugar and fat accompanying your buzz.

These cannabis consumables are not a temporary trend, according to Consult Canna industry expert Rob Hunt, who says the rise of health-conscious edibles is partly due to the state’s medicinal cannabis laws — it’s hard to justify candy and chocolate as medicine. “When you see a person ingest a Kashi bar to treat multiple sclerosis, it is difficult to accuse them of doing it to get high or as a ruse for recreation,” he explains. Other California companies are getting on the healthy-high bandwagon: Lucid Cannabis, launched in 2014, sells organic protein bars and meal replacements (as well as brownie bites), and Jambo sells weed-infused superfoods. But many brands remain focused on the sweet treats, such as Sugar High, which offers cannabis versions of Krispy Kremes, and Madame Munchie with its delightful-looking artisanal cannabis macaroons.

Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of dental public health at University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health, has concerns about the claims that health bars are good for you, saying many studies show that “so-called” healthy snacks have large amounts of sugar — which has no nutritional benefit whatsoever. (Pura Vida uses dates, maple syrup and coconut oil for sweetness.)

So, while not all fitness-focused cannabis products are created equal, their existence may help reshape the public understanding of the cannabis consumer, making it easier for users to be happy, healthy … and high.