Featured image for Humo is a Latino-Led Cannabis Brand Looking To Celebrate And Destigmatize "La Marijuana"

Humo is a Latino-Led Cannabis Brand Looking To Celebrate And Destigmatize "La Marijuana"

by Rudy Sanchez on 03/18/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Recreational cannabis has been legal in California since 2018, but its use remains a stigma around Latinos in the state and the rest of the US.

Dislike of recently arrived immigrants in the US is nothing new. The traditional “Mexican hypothesis” posits that cannabis's popularity among Mexican laborers spurred prohibition. But that theory has been called into question by recent work of scholars such as Issac Campos and Dale H. Gieringer, which shows that Mexicans weren’t particularly familiar with psychoactive cannabis, nor was its use particularly popular among that community. South of the border, the Mexican government’s prohibition on cannabis in 1920, for example, predates efforts among US states.

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Regardless, for decades this pernicious loop of using cannabis to vilify Mexicans and then using Mexicans to demonize “marijuana” has been internalized in the Latino community. According to research conducted by Pew, 12% of Hispanics in the US believe cannabis should not be legal, the highest among ethnic groups polled. Only 7% of White respondents felt the same way, and 8% of Black and Asian people interviewed agreed.

Humo is a new cannabis brand from POSIBL that wants to break the stigmas within the Latino community, normalize daily use, and celebrate the plant’s long cultural connection. The Latino-owned company visualizes Mexican-Americans, reflecting the growing Latino consumer base in the US and those working in the cannabis industry, from budtenders, growers, and other roles.

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“The term ‘marijuana’ was popularized in the early 20th century and used during the US War on Drugs to associate cannabis with Mexican immigrants specifically,” says Susie Plascencia, brand partner at Humo. “This and other criminalization efforts unfairly targeted toward communities of color resulted in disproportionate harm and a historical stigma associated with cannabis use that many still face today.”

“By being a Mexican American owned and woman-led cannabis brand, by simply existing, we are challenging what the War on Drugs set out to accomplish; to stifle the growth of the cannabis industry and position Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans as criminals,” Plascencia added.

Humo means smoke in Spanish, a reference to the burning of cannabis. The branding and packaging certainly bring the heat, and they turned to Common Matter studio for the design. The wordmark, secondary typography, and gilded linework give the packaging a Southwestern feel with an elevated rancho vibe. 

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“Humo was planned, grown, and designed for the Latino community. The brand is a symbol for challenging stigma with a hint of nostalgia and brings the best traits of the flower with the most interesting aspects of our culture together,” said Lily Rodríguez, founder of Common Matter. “Through this project, we took the dream of offering high quality, carefully crafted product to a new, powerful, and important community, and made it possible.”

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“The Common Matter team is highly sensitive to Mexican culture, American culture, and the hybrid Latino culture in the US and found inspiration in the strong nostalgia that Latinos might feel when thinking of our home country,” Rodríguez added. “This vibe is represented through warm and simple colors while using an old-school custom wordmark that reminds us of classic baseball imagery. Then we coated it with gold foil and blasting stripes to celebrate the golden years of agriculture in Salinas, California, aka the salad bowl of the world, where Humo is grown. We also wanted to depict the Latino community’s loud and cheerful personality even under harsh circumstances.”

Can a Latino-forward cannabis brand erase decades of concerted efforts to stigmatize cannabis in the community? Time will tell, but Humo seems like a great start.