Legally High: Students Turn to Party Herbs

What will you be smoking? Photo by Stephanie Pellicano.

What will you be smoking? Photo by Stephanie Pellicano.

Just don’t get the wrong idea, says Amanda Costea, owner and manager of Happy Healthy High Horny Herb Shop.

The products, called “party highs,” are an herbal supplement that, when taken in small doses (of capsule or liquid), have been said to have effects similar to the stigmatized and illegal drug Ecstasy.

But Costea says that her store’s products are herbs, not drugs — perfectly safe and “non-addictive alternatives” to illegal and harmful drugs.

“They are a healthy, legal option to have fun with,” she says.

Like the shop’s other herbals, party high herbs are all-natural and contain no synthetic compounds. Costea says this makes the herbs her store sells fundamentally different from drugs such as the increasingly popular synthetic cannabis compounds commonly known as “K2” or “Spice,” which are made with the synthetic chemical JWH-018.

While party high herb products cost around $20 (equal to two doses), prices on other supplements at Happy Healthy High Horny range from $6 to $25.

These herbs are part of a larger theme in the company’s products, Costea says, including legal, all-natural herbs for health, “magical herbs to promote dreaming,” and herbs intended for “relaxation, energy, romance and anything in-between.”

The Tempe location opened last year and is the Australia-based company’s first overseas shop.

“Basically, we are about mind, body and spirit,” she says. “We’re about a lot more than just the party herbs.”

Happy Healthy High Horny has never had any problems or misunderstandings with local law enforcement, Costea says, because “we’re proactive” whenever opening a new store in a new community by contacting local police to explain that their products are intended as addiction alternatives.

A spokesman for Tempe Police Department declined to comment for this story, saying only that no illegal activities take place at the store and therefore “it is not a police matter.”

A microbiology Ph.D. candidate at ASU’s School of Life Sciences who has tried party high herbs agreed to relate his experience to State Press Magazine.

The 25-year-old student (who asked to remain anonymous, citing privacy concerns) says he first tried the supplement in mid-August with friends before going out to a club together. However, he took well more than the recommended dosage and “ended up slightly more altered” than he planned.

The herb’s effects started with heightened physical sensation, including body tingling, he said.

His experience then escalated to a mental state “where music sounded incredible,” an urge to constantly move and dance and a sense of being in a “dream state.”

To ensure that party high herbs are used properly and safely, they are only sold in-store and in-person, not online or over the phone, Costea says. She added that she makes customers disclose any medications they’re taking, advises them not to consume the herbs along with alcohol or in higher doses, and cards all purchasers to make sure they’re over 18.

Contact the reporter at trabens@asu.edu.