Yerba mate is beloved in Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay – and with good reason. The beverage, which is drank with a bombilla, gives drinkers a boost, but without the mid-afternoon slump. Just last year, President Barack Obama visited Argentina and had mate for the first time, and he literally couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s that good. But on top of being amazing, mate’s believed to have some health benefits (though also some potential risks). Now two Uruguayan companies – Cosentina and La Abuelita – hope to make a good thing better by infusing it with cannabis, another plant known for its benefits.
According to EFE, in the next few weeks the companies will begin selling weed mate, though the products won’t include any THC. So it won’t have any of the mind-altering effects because, according to Uruguayan law, only pharmacies can sell products that can contain psychoactive properties. As Raquel Peyraube, a medicinal marijuana specialist, explained, the government would never allow the companies to sell the mate if it had psychoactive properties. Uruguay decriminalized marijuana a few years ago, but with a few caveats, including only making over-the-counter recreational weed available to registered citizens or long-term residents.
Neither Abuelita – which gets its yerba mate from Brazil and uses weed grown in Uruguay – nor Cosentina have registered their products with the Ministerio de Salud Pública as is required, the Instituto de Regulación del Cannabis (IRCAA) noted Tuesday morning in a statement. So only time will tell if their weed mate will make it into the homes of Uruguayans.