It’s only the start of the first season, and audiences have already experienced a proverbial high while watching the Spanish-language original series MalaYerba, which was co-produced by Pantaya, Colombia’s Dynamo and Sony Pictures Television, and co-created by Natalia Echeverri and Andrés Beltrán. It seems that audiences can’t get enough.
The thriller, which can be seen in the United States and Puerto Rico exclusively on the Los Angeles-based streaming platform Pantaya, is a story of ambition, strength, and a hunger for power. MalaYerba, which is Colombian slang for marijuana, follows three young entrepreneurs hoping to strike big in the lucrative medical marijuana industry.
For context, recreational use of cannabis in Colombia – where MalaYerba is set – is illegal. Still, in the last few years, the South American country has decriminalized the possession of small amounts and legalized it for medical purposes. This move allows for someone to flourish in the emerging and lucrative industry.
That’s where MalaYerba picks up when the series introduces viewers to Félix (Sebastian Eslava), Mariana (María Elisa Camargo), and Ignacio (Juan Pablo Urrego), a trio of business partners who create a profitable medicinal cannabis company called KannaLab. At first, the venture is burning bright, but when a journalist named Lola (Carolina Gaitan) begins to ask questions about the upstart company’s cannabis seed, things take a turn to the dark side.
While there is no shortage of drug-related TV shows these days, MalaYerba is different because the world that the characters inhabit isn’t conventional for this type of narrative. Eslava is glad a series like MalaYerba can start a dialogue about medical marijuana and its benefits for many people across the globe.
“People have always been fascinated with cannabis, but it’s not a new theme,” Eslava says. “It’s been here for many years. It has always been taboo. Now, it’s legal recreationally in many places. It’s liberating, and I think people want to be a part of the movement.”
In the United States, a 2021 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 91 percent of adults think marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes. Sixty percent of those people also believe it should be legal for recreational use.
Now, it’s legal recreationally in many places. It’s liberating, and I think people want to be a part of the movement.”
“There’s a real opportunity to discuss alternative medicine without the negative side of pharmaceuticals,” Camargo says, adding that MalaYerba has the potential to “open our eyes,” spur more mature conversations about the topic and teach people something about cannabis they never knew before. The latter is what happened to Eslava while making the series.
“I learned about the medicinal benefits of cannabis,” he says. “I learned the difference between TCH and CBD – the two biggest components of cannabis and the effects that they have. People hear the word ‘marijuana,’ and they think it’s all the same, [but] it goes beyond just the plant that alters your senses and gets you high.”
Not only does MalaYerba want to educate viewers about cannabis, but it’s also interested in ensuring the series is as authentic as possible. It’s evident on the show, mainly because it’s shot in northern Colombia near the Caribbean Sea, an area that Eslava calls “a very special and mystical place.”
MalaYerba premiered on October 14 and will stream new episodes every week until October 28. Episodes can be streamed through Pantaya.
To access Pantaya go to www.pantaya.com, or download the PantayaApp on iPhone and Android, also available on Roku, Apple TV, xfinity, Cox, Sling, Amazon channels, and Samsung Smart TV. Additionally, you can follow #MalaYerba on Facebook and Instagram @MalaYerbaLaSerie and Pantaya @StreamPantaya.