A Boom or Bust to the Black Market?
The co-founder and CEO of Cookies are Gilbert Milam Jr., better known by his stage name Berner.
Berner is to Cookies what Steve Jobs is to Apple, and Elon Musk is to Tesla; it’s impossible to talk about the origin of Cookies without him. Berner, a Bay Area rapper, founded the Cookies brand and now acts as CEO of the company, which manages everything from retail outlets to clothing.
According to him, Cookies is the world’s first legitimate $1 billion cannabis brand. “We’re a billion-dollar firm,” he told Insider, “based on sales, growth, and potential growth.” The company has grown from a hoodie logo to a billion-dollar business/
A Name and Brand That has Grown So Wide
Whether you live in a state where marijuana is legal or not, you’ve probably heard about Cookies.
In addition to its 49 marijuana dispensaries, Cookies is perhaps most known for its famous clothing brand of the same name, distributed worldwide. (It’s a not-so-subtle reference to a similar cannabis strain name with legal issues.)
Cookies hoodies with distinctive blue strings and matching logos may be found in U.S. apparel chains such as Zumiez, in the company’s two departmental stores, and in music videos dating back nearly a decade.
Berner stated on a podcast appearance in late 2021 that the clothing brand alone generated over $50 million in revenue last year. Fans will spend the night outside to be the first in the queue when a new Cookies dispensary opens.
Berner’s successful careers as a rapper and clothes and cannabis entrepreneur are inextricably linked. Berner rose to renown in the hip-hop industry while working at a Bay Area cannabis dispensary called The Hemp Center in the latter years of the last decade.
To suggest that Cookies has grown fast in recent years would be an understatement: Cookies grew from zero to 49 retail marijuana dispensaries between 2018 and 2022. In addition, the company opened two flagship clothing stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Berner’s increased prominence as a famous artist feeds into the reputation of the clothing line and the marijuana dispensaries, driving the business’s growth primarily through organic promotion. As his popularity as a musician has increased, so has the brand he developed. What’s more? Cookies have announced that the brand will start selling weed seeds for home cultivation.
Turning challenges into opportunities
In an on-stage conversation with MJBizDaily’s Bart Schaneman on Wednesday, the catchphrases co-founder and CEO of Cookies provided further insights:
Regarding medical cannabis: Berner stated that it felt like a “second chance at life” after his recent cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’ve seen the benefits of cannabis firsthand and have personally experienced them.”
On Collaborations: “I adore working with others, I’ve always considered myself a social butterfly.” According to Berner, Cookies works with operators passionate about cannabis, the plant, and what they do. We’re looking for people that get the atmosphere.” I can work with you if we get along.”
On legacy: “I want to make certain that when I die, particularly after coming near to death,” there are solid plans for Cookies. “I don’t want a lot of blue structures all over the place with no purpose or vision.”
On opportunities on the East Coast: Berner stated that he is so thrilled about the possibilities on the East Coast that he is considering purchasing a home there. “I f***ing adore New York….” Right now, New York has an entirely different vibe.” “I think Pennsylvania is going to be big,” he added.
On overcoming the illicit market and selling seeds directly to consumers: “It’s simple – you grow something that the streets don’t have,” Berner explained. “It’s difficult to compete with the illicit market because weed is much cheaper, but if you have some s*** that no one else has, they’ll come.” You compete by simply showing up with fire. That is how you triumph. It all comes down to genetics.” The black market could also flourish to new levels once Cookie’s genetics are grown by illegal operators, too.
On the Main Stage, cannabis leaders and advocates discussed the current obstacles and prospects in the cannabis sector with MJBiz CEO Chris Walsh.
The Parent Co.’s CEO, Troy Datcher, said the company’s home state of California is proving difficult, with a robust illicit market and heavy taxes. To cope with the storm, the firm has stuck to its objective of becoming a national brand, despite slashing its head numbers by 33%. “We needed to safeguard our balance sheet,” Datcher explained. “We have one of California’s largest balance sheets.”
“We need to invest funds and resources to recruit talent to support us on this journey.” What keeps Datcher going? “We’re enthusiastic about the industry we’re developing, bringing Black and brown folks to the table and pushing (U.S. Sen.) Cory Booker and everybody in Washington to get off their asses and help us accomplish this thing,” he said.
According to Nancy Whiteman, co-founder, and CEO of Colorado-based edibles firm Wana Brands, some of her biggest challenges are state rules, a lack of enforcement, price compression, and the presence and hazards of delta-8 THC. “A kid died after consuming delta-8 items,” she explained.
“What will happen when that is made public?” Will all THC be labeled as dangerous?” Whiteman urged the business to lobby the FDA to regulate CBD and hemp. Reaching new, emerging economies and concentrating on innovation are opportunities that encourage Whiteman to overcome problems. “What cannabis can be,” she explained.
Delta-8 THC is also a challenge for Marijuana Policy Project President and CEO Toi Hutchison, who said the advocacy group’s campaigns are experiencing “donor fatigue.” “We’re getting the general populace to understand that our work in cannabis is not done,” she said. “We are still arresting 600,000 people every single year.”
She said education is key to battling the proliferation of delta-8 THC. “Bans never work, prohibition never works,” she said. “It’s really important that we use the words’ synthetic cannabinoids.”
While the Cannabis industry no doubt continues to face a mountain of challenges, many opportunities still present for people willing to look. And this is precisely what Berner did. There’s a gap in the supply of home cultivars with cannabis seeds, and Cookies will be filling such a gap in the market. While home cultivators may be happy, the move will most likely not make a dent in the black market, in fact, it may actually help the black market as now Cookies’ genetics will be grown by “everyone” and available on the street. Did supermarket put restaurants out of business? No. Food prep requires work and time, just like growing cannabis. While some will enjoy 8 to 12 weeks of cultivation, most will just go right to the “prepared meals” area and buy lunch or dinner.