Interview with Haley Bain, Herbalist + Co-Founder of Ahh Moments

Ahh Moments recently won 1st Place at the High Times Massachusetts Cannabis Cup in the non-gummy category and placed 3rd at the NECANN Cup competition in chocolate edibles, all in its first year of operation. Ahh has carved out a unique niche in the cannabis edibles market by blending herbalism, nutritional benefits, full-spectrum cannabis, and craft chocolate. We sat down for this interview with Haley Bain, co-founder of this exciting brand, to delve into her inspiration for merging herbalism with plant science in the world of edible chocolates.

Can you share your journey into the world of herbalism and what specifically drew you to working with cannabis?

Haley: My fascination with plants started in childhood. As a child, I spent a lot of time outdoors, often creating potions and pastes. My father, an avid gardener, food enthusiast, and history buff, instilled in me a deep appreciation for the idea of food as medicine. My mother, a talented cook, brought garden vegetables and farm-to-table principles into our kitchen, steeping me in her culinary prowess. The combined influence of my parents is the cornerstone of my work today—creating wellness-driven delicacies that are as nutritious as they are delicious.

My formal education in herbalism began in college when I befriended my botany professor, Mel Shemluck, who was a student and protégé of Richard Evans Schultes, the father of ethnobotany, at Harvard. This connection deepened my reverence for plant powers and indigenous wisdom, guiding me to focus my Bachelor’s degree on Multicultural Education, Sacred Sites, and Sustainability, and to earn a certificate in Native American Indian Studies. My training continued through apprenticeships with elders, wild harvest experts, permaculture specialists, and organic farmers, culminating in a four-year mentorship under Brittany Nickerson of Thyme Herbal, who integrates Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and Western herbalism into her teachings.

My engagement with cannabis began at an early age as well. Driven by a fascination with mysticism and rites of passage, my early experiences with cannabis and psychedelics were formative, expanding my understanding of how powerful plant allies can possess psychoactive effects and stimulate altered states of consciousness.

How do Ahh Moments cannabis-infused chocolate edibles complement a lifestyle that incorporates natural, plant-based, or superfood ingredients?

Haley:  Our goal in creating these cannabis-infused chocolates, which include superfoods, is to enhance both pleasure and healing for those who partake. Whether our customers are drawn to wellness, natural products, and plant-based experiences, or they simply enjoy indulging in a delicious treat, Ahh Moments reinforces these principles. Wellness isn’t a linear journey; it’s diverse and personalized. I aim to support health, joy, and spontaneity, encouraging a balanced approach to wellness that can sometimes include indulging in the taboo. Thus, our typical consumer might be anyone from a health enthusiast to someone with a sweet tooth—either way, they’re in for a treat.

For consumers primarily looking for an exceptional cannabis experience, why would someone more interested in cannabinoids want to partake in your product?

Haley: Each of our Ahh bars is designed for a specific, effects-based experience, starting with a full-spectrum RSO or hash rosin for our cannabis infusion choices. We fine-tune the experience by incorporating minor cannabinoids and strain-specific terpenes that are thoughtfully paired with the recipes, creating truly full-spectrum products. As we deepen our understanding of cannabis and its health benefits, we offer consumers the ability to choose products that meet their specific needs and preferences for healing or exploration.

For customers primarily interested in the cannabis aspect, how do the other ingredients in your chocolate bars enhance or influence their experience? How do you balance the effects of cannabis with the nutritional benefits of the other ingredients?

Haley: Each bar’s nutraceutical inclusions are carefully selected to enhance and support the full benefits of cannabis and cacao, and the particular cannabinoid minors. The underlying goal is to nourish your body, and support systems, and neutralize free radical build-up while staying thoughtful about ingredients that are safe and effective for everyone, have a gentle and non-intrusive way of working within the body, and are generally somewhat familiar to diverse populations.

In what ways do your products contribute to holistic well-being, considering both the physical and mental aspects of health?

Haley: In developing the Ahh ethos, we spent much time thinking about this. How can we translate the benefits of our products in a holistic dimension? For me, holistic well-being is a passion, but I know not everyone feels that way. A lot of “I wish I did this more…” or “ I should have done that” breeding feelings of guilt or doubt. These feelings can sometimes actually be toxic or negative and outweigh the good things we do for ourselves. I like to tone down that self judgment and judgment of others and lean into gentleness, then find a way to care for ourselves and encourage others to create time, ritual, and practice around simply enjoying something, slowing down to be in the moment, to dive into what you love most, to try and be a container for pleasure, exploration, community, or personal time. The myriad of ways we can self-love, self-care, or give love and care for others, are endless. My products are a love offering. A way to enjoy, taste and medicate. I can share the joy I feel when I eat them. I can facilitate others to do what they love and also nourish them, possibly healing them. I can encourage folks to realize their moment. We all deserve it. It’s that Mama in me; put this  sweet morsel in your mouth, a simple pleasure, a grounding moment, a shared smile.

For individuals new to both cannabis and superfoods, how do you recommend they approach your products in terms of integrating them into their lifestyle?

Haley: I advise you to start small and wait. “Low and slow” as we often say in the edibles space. I recently facilitated an experience just like this and loved to see the opening and the unfolding as the consumer felt the onset. I am a low-dose girl myself, so I know that a little bit can go a long way. Sometimes we just want to crack the door, not dive off the cliff. For those new to edibles and Ahh in particular, I would start with one triangle that contains 5mg of THC, which is the same in all our current offerings. If you’re still feeling unsure of that amount, even half of that is a nice nibble to start with. Allow yourself to savor the flavor and experience the effects. If after an hour or so, you haven’t felt much, eat a little more. All people are different and even those who haven’t eaten a ton of edibles can have high tolerance. It has to do with your metabolism, so you’ll need to feel it out, learn your system and you’ll find the sweet spot.

How do your personal lifestyle choices reflect the qualities and ingredients of your cannabis-infused chocolate bars? Do you incorporate similar elements into your daily routine?

Haley: I am a real foodie and dedicated to wellness. So I am a stickler for “deliciousness” when it comes to chocolates. I think there is a time and a place for acute herbal treatments or particular situations where deliciousness isn’t key to healing, but if I am going to eat cannabis chocolate, it better be so good I want more. I am the same with ganja flowers. I want the best, most beautiful, live soil, and organic sticky flowers. It has to taste delicious and smell incredible, for me to get into it. I want the form and function. Delectable and effective. I crafted our bars with this in mind. People often ask, which is my favorite and I really can’t say. Each one is super delicious to me. I’m at my popup, sneaking our own samples. That’s how it should be. I gotta want it bad myself, to want to sell it to you.

How do your personal beliefs or philosophy about health and wellness influence your approach to creating cannabis-infused products?

Haley: I often like recipes that work in the realms of familiarity. I also love an educational element, but I have a lot of love for underappreciated simple plants. The spices and herbs we see and know but don’t rate. It’s the way I love an onion. This simple plant has so many healing properties that stretch across the world through so many cultures and kitchens, and yet people don’t often speak its name. As a woman on a delicious diet, I can tell you that most things that I cook start with an onion. I am also a plant lover and ingredient buff so I do go crazy for newness and the unknown, but when crafting these bars I intentionally kept it grounded, in an attempt to harness some of those unsung heroes of the plant world. As nutraceuticals have taken hold in popular culture, I often peruse these ingredient lists and am struck by the craziness and overzealous nature. It’s like, let’s pile in the most popular trending ingredients and call it “good for you” and then you taste it and are like, damn that cost mad money and is so nasty. There is a true art to balance in recipes, there is training in how to support body systems, where more is not more in this wellness world. Your body is highly sensitive and can be altered by the slightest of things if the thing is the correct one, administered in the correct modality. Plants are powerful and I work with them carefully and intentionally.

I’ll close by saying when you choose an Ahh bar you can trust it’s been crafted with love and consideration for your pleasure, elevation of spirit, and with top quality ingredients, from bean to bar, seed to stem, and from me to you.