Mari y Juana Brings Mexican Flavors to Marijuana-Infused Micheladas and Sodas
Mexican American founder Daniel Torres dreams up weed drinks to chill you out.
Daniel Torres has worked in the cannabis business since he was 16 years old, amounting to over two decades of experience in cultivation, retail, wholesale, and all other aspects of the business. But throughout his lengthy career, he had never seen a product that reflected who he is and where he’s come from. As a first-generation Mexican American, in a marketplace saturated with standard chocolates and gummies, Torres wanted to be different, which is how he dreamt up his cannabis company Mari y Juana in 2016.
“What propelled me to make the brand from the beginning is I saw very little representation of culture and Mexican Americans, or even Latinos in general,” Torres says. “In this [cannabi] space, they’re always the workers, the laborers—in the restaurant industry they’re the dishwasher or cook.”
Torres took it upon himself to change the narrative by being the CEO and founder. Initially, Mari y Juana was going to be an edibles brand specializing in spicy Mexican candies, but he wanted to stand out from the already crowded cannabis confection market. He wanted to do something different.
“There’s a market right now for beverages that’s emerging,” Torres explains. “A couple of years ago, people wouldn’t really look twice at a beverage, but because of the advancements in science, flavoring, and branding, there’s a large variety of products that more closely resembles your liquor store or convenience store.” As an Angeleno and a Mexican American, what better drink to infuse with cannabis than a michelada?
The michelada—a Mexican beer cocktail that typically consists of a marriage of clam juice, tomato juice, hot sauce, limes, and a light beer—is the perfect vehicle to cover up the often acrid flavor found in other marijuana-laced edibles. For Mari y Juana, the michelada powdered mix boasts a dose of 10 milligrams and can be found in classic michelada foam cups or in single dose packets. “We’re using salt and chili powder, and these flavors really overwhelm the senses,” Torres says. “And then on top of that, you’re mixing in your beverage—whether it’s beer, seltzer, or orange juice. Those flavors just dismiss the cannabis taste.”
Torres launched his potent michelada mix on Cinco de Mayo of 2021. It’s been a point of pride for him to create a product that related to his identity. But it’s not just himself he wants to impress—it’s his family, too.
“My mom has flushed my weed down the toilet more times than I can count,” Torres laughs. There is a tension between being a first-generation immigrant and working in a controversial business that has often been viewed as damaging. While Torres recognizes this discord intimately, he also wanted to win over his parents and have their support in his business. “There’s a convergence of both worlds—Mexican and American, my parents and myself—that I’m trying to convey in the branding.”
Following the success of the michelada mix, Torres began developing a new recipe, this time for Mexican-inspired sodas. The lineup, which includes tamarind, pineapple, and guava, launched on May 5, a year after the michelada mix debuted. It’s a product that has even earned his mom’s approval. “I got the first batch of the sodas in February of this year and my parents sat down and tried it with me,” Torres begins. “My mom tasted it and said, ‘Wow, this really tastes like tamarindo.’ It was a celebratory drink.”
The product is so potent, yet sippable, that it actually snagged Mari y Juana first place in the beverages category of The High Times’ 2022 Cannabis Cup for people’s choice.
The brand is about so much more than the effects of marijuana. Yes, getting high is part of it. But for Torres, it’s about culture and destigmatizing marijuana for fellow Mexican Americans who may be misinformed or hesitant about experimenting with weed.
“I want to normalize this thing for our parents, for existing people who have forever demonized it,” Torres says. “I feel a sense of pride that I could accomplish that with my mom. It’s something I have to continue to reflect on, like, ‘Wow, that really happened.’”