Maisa Bribiesca never imagined she’d run one of Latin America’s first cannabis investment funds. She studied math and physics, and later entered the world of funding and social entrepreneurialism. But as of 2020, Bribiesca is leading a revolution to “empower Latin America” in the booming international cannabis industry as the head of Indicapital, a Mexican investment fund dedicated to growing cannabis businesses.
“The idea is to amend the bloody history we’ve had,” says Bribiesca. “It’s about having a solid plan to secure good practices, certification metrics, quality levels, and education in the cannabis industry.”
Established in 2018, Indicapital is currently working in Mexico and the United States with businesses in beauty, pets goods, and manufacturing, as well as the development of technology and registering intellectual property. Bribiesca says that beauty, in particular, is one of the biggest markets for the cannabis industry and a big priority for Indicapital. The company has also partnered with organizations like the Consejo Mexicano de Cannabis y Cáñamo to work on education and legislation that would grow the legal cannabis markets in Mexico, as well as positioning the country as a hub for international investment.
Bribiesca’s debut in the world of cannabis comes at a time when Mexico is on the verge of becoming one of the world’s biggest cannabis markets. Last March, the cámara de diputados approved a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis, a move that was expected since the same chamber declared the prohibition of recreational cannabis as unconstitutional two years ago. It’s now expected that the bill would go to the senate before being reviewed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Although cannabis is part of today’s national conversation, Mexican society is still filled with taboos around the consumption and legalization of cannabis. Bribiesca faced all of them. “There is a lot of fear on one side, and on the other, a lot of reluctance,” she says. When she decided to join Indicapital, her family was shocked, and ever since she says it’s been a “brutal” process of educating them on what her job and the industry actually is. “My mom asked me up front if I was laundering money,” Bribiesca adds.
Of course, she isn’t. Cannabis stocks and investment funds are popping up all over the world. In the United States, as states like Arizona and New York legalized cannabis, there is more space and certainty for investors to bet on this market, which is poised to be one of the biggest economic drivers of the next few decades. A Washington DC-based research firm estimates that total US legal cannabis sales to exceed $35 billion by 2025.
As the big bucks accumulate, Bribiesca says there is even more money to be made in using CBD– a non-psychoactive cannabinoid– in beauty products. She says it’s one of the cannabis markets with the most potential because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, from pharmaceutical production to cosmetics. It’s also an ingredient that’s set to revolutionize the production of lubricants, especially those meant to increase female sexual pleasure.
“Right now, we have a chance to create from scratch an industry that has a gender perspective and doesn’t come with all the patriarchal dispositions other industries have, Bribiesca adds.
Right now, legislation on cannabis legalization is halted in Mexico. But Bribiesca thinks it can take a long time before more cannabis businesses can operate legally in Mexico and consumers can freely approach cannabinoids. Still, she continues to push for investment and education, saying that the best way to grow the market is to empower those that have been most disenfranchised by its prohibition. “It’s in everybody’s best interests to enter the 21st century with this issue,” she says.