New Latino-Owned Cannabis Brand Mesobis Is Focused on Representation
Mango con chile, tamarindo con chamoy—this LA-based brand brings bold Latin flavors to the edible.
Like many of us, Santiago Cervantes was first introduced to cannabis through movies and music. “Where I’m from in Monterrey, there is a niche community of cinephiles and musicians, and through that community—watching Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick films and listening to Pink Floyd—I associated artistic, intellectual conversations with consuming cannabis,” says the Mexico native.
Nelson Cury, being from Brazil, had a similar experience, though his mother didn’t share his perspective. “The first time my mom caught me smoking weed, she burst into tears,” recalls Cury. “For her, it was like, ‘I’ve lost my son to drugs.’” But he understands it comes from the culture during which her generation grew up.
Together, the duo founded Mesobis, a cannabis brand they hope honors Latin America. “It sounds a little absurd, when you just state the facts,” says Cury, “a Brazilian and a Mexican move here for the American dream, and we find it in the form of cannabis edibles that connect us to our roots.”
So the pair asked themselves, when you live in a foreign country what do you miss most? The food, of course.
Inspired by the ingredients of their respective home countries, Mesobis gummies, or gomitas, come in flavors like tamarindo con chamoy, mango con chile, and açaí. Each 10 mg gomita is shaped like a pyramid—namely Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Sun, one of the largest such structures in Mesoamerica. In both flavor and form, the founders are able to pay homage to their Latin American heritage and, hopefully, make others like them feel more at home here.
Mesobis gummies are currently available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, with plans to expand beyond the California market in 2023. While Latin Americans comprise at least 39 percent of Californian citizens, the need for brands that resonate with these communities is even greater outside of California’s densely populated cannabis scene.
“It took us a year to develop the gomitas,” explains Cury. “The first versions of the gummies were good, but we’d taste them and think, okay if I gave this to someone in Brazil, who had no context of the American cannabis industry, would they say it tastes like açaí? If not, we’d go back to the drawing board. It had to taste like home.”
In both flavor and form, the founders are able to pay homage to their Latin American heritage.
Figuring the right amount of chilies that wouldn’t break down the gummy structures was tricky, and they ended up having to go from five architectural levels (true to the actual Pyramid of the Sun) to four to maintain the structural integrity through the cooking process. They considered other shapes across Latin Americans art and architecture, but the pyramid was the perfectly emblematic shape.
“In the end, almost out of respect for our ancestors and the generations before us, there was no other answer than the pyramid shape,” recalls Cervantes. “In the beginning, when there were five cradles of civilization, Mesoamerica was one of them—a concentrated group of cultures near the equator.” Hence, the name Mesobis, which is a portmanteau of Mesoamerica (shortened to meso) and cannabis.
“I’m 100 percent Brazilian, but I’m a mix of Brazilian, Italian, et cetera,” adds Cury. “When you look at our brand the first time, it may not read as a Latin brand. And that’s okay—that’s a more accurate representation of modern Latin America than one single thing like Day of the Dead or Carnival. Yes, those are amazing things that we’re very proud of, but there’s a lot more to the different cultures within the Latin American identity.”
Cervantes and Cury have been thoughtful about representing the vast multicultural identities of Latin communities from the beginning. Indeed, it was the lack of representation that felt true to them that started them on this journey.
The two childhood friends reconnected after graduating from colleges in Southern California. Cervantes went to film school and started his own production company. Meanwhile Cury had landed in the venture capital world, running a cannabis fund for two and a half years. At first, they wanted to create content for cannabis brands, but it was only a matter of time before they figured they ought to just start their own brand—the brand that they’d been waiting to see.
“We enjoyed cannabis, we loved branding it, but we felt like there was really nothing for us,” says Cervantes. “We’d seen a couple Latin-oriented brands launch in the US market, and we always felt like they were really on the nose. Very obvious about trying to be Latin.” To be fair, so is Mesobis. It stands out in its artistic choices: the pyramid shape, the flavors, the name. “But we’re also trying to do something a bit more niche and artistic in a sense, by calling on aesthetics from cultures across Latin America and the artist communities emerging in less-talked-about regions.”
Wrapping up whole cultures in a weed gummy can be daunting. But Cervantes believes in the brand. “We just hope that when those people try our products, they feel like it’s made for them.”