The US is full of contradictions when it comes to drugs and cannabis is the perfect example. Although the plant remains a Schedule I substance at a federal level (a category for drugs with “no currently accepted medical use”), 36 states and Washington DC have approved it for therapeutic use, while 18 other territories gave ganja the green-light for recreational use. Regarding foreign policies, the country is just as severe today as it was when Nixon declared a full-blown War on Drugs — a heavy burden that Latin America has paid with decades of violence.
Besides the cartel-related crime in the region, Latines are targeted in the penitentiary system at a higher rate than whites in the US: 50% of federal drug cases are against Hispanics (even though we represent only 17% of the population). Even simple marijuana possession falls heavier on our community: it’s the fourth most common cause of deportation. Clearly, there’s still a lot of work to be done—but not all is lost.
Throughout Latin America, different countries have picked up the pace and taken matters into their own hands, with critical reforms happening at a regional level. Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize cannabis. Mexico recently declared it unconstitutional to persecute its consumers. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru have now approved the medical use of cannabis, launching a whole industry around weed’s beneficial properties. And on the societal level, taboos have rapidly started to be shattered, bringing with this new paradigm a new consumer market.
From herbalists creating small-batch tinctures that treat insomnia, to artisans handcrafting beautiful ceramic pipes, to creative media platforms focusing on ganja, and high-end boutiques selling all sorts of accouterments, there’s a big wave of entrepreneurs expressing their freedom through a unique offering that adds lots of estilo to the industry. We spoke to a few founders and came up with a list of some Latin American projects ready to ripple across the world:
Concepto Punto y Línea
Working with locally sourced materials, this Mexico City-based company creates smooth-looking ceramic pipes that are free of lead, allowing for clean, chemical-free smoke in every puff. “We followed Dieter Rams’ 10 principles of good design to achieve a minimalist design that rethinks the way society thinks of those who consume cannabis,” Diego Mario Trinidad Perez, the long-named artisan behind Concepto Punto y Línea, tells Remezcla. “Form is the goal behind the object’s function.” These stoneware pieces are baked at very high temperatures, giving them a smooth and matte finish (the glossy versions include 20% glass in its mix, giving it a shiny glaze). Best of all, they’re built to last 100 years — and to help maintain them in good condition, each pipe comes with vegan leather pouches.
Eugenia Fernández Mele
Working as a ceramist since she was 18-years-old, the orange-haired creative started her career at a cooperative in Northeast Argentina where she produced archeological replicas. “Of all the pieces we studied, pipes were the most fascinating,” says Fernández. “They represent a ritual that is still relevant today.” Her pieces carry a feminine aura that pops out with each decoration and embellishment, including her gold-kissed flower-shaped pipes and stash jars. “Argentina is going through historical changes, the result of local cannabis activists and global movements,” she adds, highlighting the importance of demanding social justice as legalization continues to grow. “We must insist on the liberation of all those who once planted and are now in jail.”
Nestled in the heart of Colombia, in what today is a dried-up sea, is Villa de Leyva, a colonial town where time passes slowly and life is lived like in the olden days. In a hidden-away atelier, industrial designer Alejandro Moure hand-makes drop-shaped pipes that are big enough to fit in your palm, giving consumers a good grip on their stash. And if you’re wondering about the name, “pispa” is a typical word in Colombia used to highlight something that’s pretty, good-looking, and eye-catching.
Stoners have a reputation for being lazy and disorganized, but stigmas aside, we all know that being organized is the best way to successful execution. When it comes to rolling joints, having a good tray can help you keep all your tools in one place (and minimize the mess). Christian Macusi, the brains behind the eponymous Mexican brand, makes ceramic and wood trays that function both independently and as a unit. One of his recent launches includes a series in partnership with Guadalajara-based artist Adnan Galva, who customized a limited edition of hand-painted trays inspired by Mexican folklore and street art. “We’re looking to change the perspective when it comes to cannabis paraphernalia by creating art and decorative objects, catering to collectors who appreciate custom pieces,” says Macusi.
Punta del Este is known for being one of the chicest towns in South America, a place where sun-chasers gather to enjoy life. The beach resort in Uruguay has quickly become a cannabis capital, and Kaya Center is every stoner’s meeting ground. This multi-platform complex includes a tapas restaurant, a garden bar where live concerts are held weekly, a gallery showcasing established and new Latin American artists, and the Kaya Herb House, a store with accessories and smoke gear. Not everything is fun and games though: the compound also has a clinic where specialists help new patients understand endocannabinology (the way our body’s endocannabinoid system works and how particular strains/delivery methods work to treat specific ailments). And there’s a private member’s club, too, for locals who want to access plants grown following organic standards.
This list wouldn’t be complete without including a bong. Luckily, there’s Tere Montaño González’s wonderful work with Tricoma, which makes stylish and functional water pipes in Querétaro. The Mexican brand’s name is inspired by trichomes, sticky resins that grow on the cannabis flower, responsible for the plant’s flavor, aroma, and cannabinoid profile (the molecules that determine a strain’s effect). “I began consuming with my friends; we listened to music, laughed about nonsense, enjoyed the munchies,” says Montaño. “It helps me get into a more flowy state and appreciate the simple things in life. I realized that those who consumed cannabis were very interesting people.” Oh, we feel you girl.
Photo courtesy Camila Clavero/Lucila Grossman. If the US has Broccoli Magazine as an iconic cannabis platform, Latin America has Fina. The Argentinian publication is pushing boundaries, not just in terms of its reporting of the cannabis scene, but also with its surreal photo set-ups, merch, and layout design. This creative melange is the result of an editorial intersection between cannabis, art, and technology, featuring diverse articles that span from profiles on digital artists like Joaquina Salgado to philosophical essays on contemporary topics. “Fina materializes the digital world,” reads the mag’s official manifesto. “It doesn’t want to break the rhythm: it wants to amplify it.”