Marijuana

Latinx-Inspired Products Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet in Phoenix

Angry Errl has fruit-flavored gummies with chamoy dipping pop.
Angry Errl has fruit-flavored gummies with chamoy dipping pop. Courtesy of The Mint
Latinx-influenced cannabis products are slowly making a mark locally, but they still don't reflect the size of the overall Latin population in metro Phoenix.

While some products have a more native Mexican twist, including a Tres Leches flower strain and a Dulce de Leche-flavored gummies, others have a more Mexican-American or Chicano flavor, such as the Low Rider flower strain.

And while there are a few Spanish-named or Latinx-influenced cannabis products, the number of Latinx-owned cannabis brands that are sold in Arizona does not reflect the fact that one-third of the state's population is Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census.

Raul Molina, chief operating officer of The Mint dispensaries in the Valley and additional locales in Michigan, said the Hispanic or Latino representation in the cannabis industry is much less than 33 percent.

"Sadly, it's not [proportional]," he said. "Even though Arizona has a large Latin population, they make up very little of the cannabis industry and even less of the ownership groups."
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Chamoy-flavored cannabis-infused hot sauce
Courtesy of The Mint

Roots Back to Juarez

Molina — who was born in Juarez, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. at seven years old — has noticed few Latinos in the cannabis industry. But that might be explained in part, he said, by the realities of retail cannabis operations. "It may reflect the consumer demographics we see daily on the retail floor. Our patient base is 80 percent Caucasian, 10 percent to 12 percent African-American, and the remaining demographic is everyone else, including Latinos," he said.

Molina, 49, pointed to growing up in a Catholic family as another reason Latinos aren't represented in the cannabis industry. "My mother was worried about the rest of the family coming to the wrong conclusion. So she made me call the family and personally explain what I was doing and how it was legal. Come to find out, we had several aunts, uncles, and cousins come out of the 'cannabis closet' and also admit they consumed cannabis. So now it's normal and always comes up in conversation," he said.

But according to Molina, there's a silver lining that comes with being a minority in a group of niche cannabis entrepreneurs. "It seems at times that we are looked at as the ones that know," he added.

Minorities in the industry also help brands create products that are organically tailored to a demographic. Molina created The Vault, his top-shelf line of flowers packed in black-colored containers with a gold-colored six-spoke vault handle logo. El Hefe, Puta Breath, Tres Leches, and Chile Verde are some strains sold throughout Arizona that are grown in The Mint's vault, which is a warehouse-size room dedicated to cultivation.

The Mint also sells the Horchata strain from Mohave Select.

Much of Molina's inspiration for cannabis products is saved in his heart with roots back in Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

"The thing I remember most was my abuelita (grandmother) having a glass of alcohol on her window sill with a bit of cannabis in it," he said. "It was her favorite thing to rub on anything that hurt."

Molina also recalled walking into Chamizal Park on the weekends and buying treats from the elotero (corn) man. "We would buy chicharrones, corn on the cob, and my favorite: a mango on a stick covered in lime and chamoy. We would savor the sweet and tangy chamoy sauce," he said.

Decades later, the tastes he savored as a child inspired his Angry Errl line of cannabis-infused hot sauce, which includes Chamoy and Dabatio along with Louisiana, Buffalo, and Sriracha flavors. Molina also created fruit-flavored gummies with chamoy dipping pop.
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In June, Roberto Laposse launched the Catri cannabis edibles brand, a Latin-American-inspired product line featuring flavors familiar to metro Phoenix patients.
Courtesy RR Brothers

'Inspiration From Our Upbringing'

Now would be a great time to quench on some agua de horchata, which is the white-colored drink served in Mexican restaurants throughout the Valley. It's made of rice, milk, sugar, almonds, cinnamon sticks, vanilla extract, and water — soaked and blended. After it's fully liquified, evaporated milk is added, and it's listo! Molina said The Mint's cafe can make cannabis-infused horchata.

Then there are the horchata-flavored gummies, infused with THC and made by Catri, a Phoenix-based edible company with a sister cannabis edibles company, RR Brothers, based in Oklahoma.

"This new product line honors La Catrina, the queen of Dia de los Muertos,” said Roberto Laposse, the 33-year-old CEO and co-founder of RR Brothers. "Drawing inspiration from our upbringing in Mexico, we've developed a line of bold, nostalgic flavors that reflect our cultural heritage."

The Catri cannabis edibles brand was launched in June and, led by Laposse and his twin brother, features flavors that are familiar to metro Phoenix cannabis patients and rec users. Flavors include piña colada, chamoy, horchata, tamarindo, dulce de leche, fresas con crema, mango, tamarindo, platanito, and manzanita.

For his line of gummies, packed with 100 milligrams of THC, Laposse drew on his family's 100-year candy-making legacy, which "is actually a mass production candy factory in Mexico City," he explained. "My grandfather founded it, and then it was run by my father."

Catri is manufactured in the U.S. and is vegan, pectin-based, gluten-free, and made with natural preservatives and ingredients. But Laposse said it keeps the family's Mexican provenance intact.

"Since my family has been in the manufacturing of all sorts [of products] since the 1800s, we will need to bring that discipline, consistency, and follow-up" to the process of creating cannabis-infused gummies. It is "important to have a good business for manufacturing edibles," he said.

Catri is sold at Sticky Saguaro, Ponderosa, JARS, Nirvana, Nature's Wonder, Green Pharms, Kind Meds, and Oasis dispensaries throughout Arizona.

Catri is also sold at The Mint, which Molina happily stocks next to its own line of Mexican-inspired edibles and condiments.
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The Mint Cafe's kitchen makes infused street tacos with carne asada, carnitas, adovada, and other flavorful meats with all the veggie trimmings.
Mike Madriaga

Infused Street Tacos with All the Trimmings

In late July, Molina had The Mint's cannabis cafe bake a tres leches cake for Phoenix New Times. "The one we made you is not infused, but for other people, we can pack it with 1,000 milligrams of THC if needed," Molina said.

The Mint Cafe, nestled inside The Mint dispensary in Tempe, opened to the public in 2018. The chefs cook and bake Mexican treats with cannabis oil and cannabis butter.

"Regarding Mexican pastries, we also make conchas, Mexican wedding cakes, churro cupcakes, and plain churros," Molina continued. "They can be special ordered with up to 100 milligrams for rec and higher for medical consumers."

The kitchen, which is feet away from the showroom floor, also makes infused street tacos with carne asada, carnitas, adovada, and other flavorful meats with all the veggie trimmings. If the tacos aren't spicy enough, the patient can add dabs of Molina's Angry Errl cannabis-infused hot sauce, which is sold by the bottle or in restaurant-style packets.

Food pricing depends on the dosage. Taco servings start at 25 milligrams for $10.50. Then the price structure increases by dosage: 50 milligrams for $13; 100 milligrams for $18; and so on. Want more? Order food packed with 1,000 milligrams for $75 per menu item. The Mexican pastries are cheaper per serving.

If a customer can't drive to the cafe, the kitchen will deliver for free if the order reaches the $50 minimum.

Speaking of cars, The Mint held a car show where a replica of the "Love Machine" bounced into the dispensary's parking lot. The Arizona lowrider was inspired by the 1964 Chevy Impala with the same name that was cruised by Cheech & Chong in the Up In Smoke weed movie.

The "Love Machine" also inspired another Phoenix cannabis business.

In May 2022, Nature's Medicines, with multiple locations in Arizona, launched Tommy Chong's and Cheech & Chong's cannabis lines, including pre-rolled joints, eighths of pre-packed flower, vape cartridges, concentrates, and edibles. Love Machine, Labrador, Happy Hippy, Yesca, M.O.M., and Low Rider are some of the available strains. Lowriders are an integral part of the Chicano history and lifestyle in metro Phoenix, while yesca is Mexican-American slang for weed. Cheech Marin, who is Mexican-American, would refer to marijuana as yesca in the duo's 1970s-1980s weed-infused comedy movies.

While weed was taboo throughout the U.S. from the 1970s to the 1990s, it's still more stigmatized in Mexico where it's not yet legal.

"Within the Latin community, there is a little more pushback about cannabis support," Laposse said. "Because parents are a little more strict, and so on. It shows that part of the stigma is fear of the unknown or fear of understanding, and I see it as a self-defense mechanism. And not only in the Latin community but in many parts of the world."

Laposse added that it's important to honor the legacy of "our ancestors and other risk takers who have helped shape the cannabis industry to where it is today and where it will be tomorrow."
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