The arrival of one of America’s most popular cannabis companies had been hinted at for months before Cookies first Oklahoma City location made its grand opening announcement — two days in advance.
The short turnaround didn’t prevent a blowout opening day, with lines wrapped around the building. Its parking lot was full before doors opened, with spillover crowds abandoning their vehicles wherever they could find spaces and joining the hundreds waiting their turn to get their hands on some of the company’s signature strains.
It is the brand’s first location to open outside of a legal adult use, or recreational state.
“Oklahoma has one of the fastest-growing medical cannabis markets in the country. In just over two years, nearly 8 percent of the state’s total population have already registered as medical cannabis patients which is more than double the patient saturation in any other state. Cookies’ long-standing reputation as a respected provider of innovative, high-quality cannabis products makes it well positioned to provide excellent medicine for the patients who make up this rapidly growing market,” spokeswoman Brittany Carr said.
The brainchild of San Francisco cannabis cultivator Gilbert Milam Jr., otherwise known as “Berner,” and a partnership with grower Jai, Cookies grew from the reputation of Berner’s Girl Scout Cookies strain, which still remains wildly popular and frequently found in the genetic makeup of hundreds of strain crosses.
After a decade in business, this has led to several offshoot brands under the Cookies umbrella, like Lemonnade and Minntz with more undoubtedly to come.
More than just a purveyor of choice flower, Cookies has established itself also as a clothing line.
“Cookies is a globally recognized brand with the highest-premium genetics. Cookies is more than a premiere cannabis company; it is an authentic lifestyle brand with passionate fans from all over the world. Our global presence recognizes our premium genetics and we strive to maintain the highest quality, most authentic and innovative genetics to our consumers. Berner is involved in all aspects of the business from the cultivator to the consumer and is constantly engaged in new breeding projects, working to launch differentiated brands and strains. Patients should choose Cookies over other options because of Berner’s love and passion for the plant. When you buy a Cookies product, patients should know that the plant was breeded, grown and curated with the highest quality control and care, to ensure the best and most premium medicine for our medical consumer,” Carr said.
More than one location is planned — but have not yet been announced — for the state. Carr said an announcement for the next location to open, which will be in Tulsa, is forthcoming shortly.
Even though Cookies could easily keep patients coming with just their own flower strains, of which there are currently close to two dozen, the dispensary shelves are also stocked with carefully selected Oklahoma brands as well. Oklahoma favorites like ALTVM, Blue Collar Criminals, Craft Cannabis Company, Giddy’s and Mr. Mack’s can all be found inside the big blue building that was formerly an Arby’s on the north side of Northwest Expressway between Portland Avenue and Meridian Avenue.
“Berner finds the best growers within the market our store is going to be in and works to bring them into the Cookies family. He looks for great people, who have great products that want to partner with Cookies and our vision. Cookies wants to incorporate local growers within our retail locations, that we deem to be up to Cookies’ high quality, premium standards,” Carr said.
In fact, Cookies partnered with several Oklahoma growers, particularly ALTVM, to grow their strains for them in the state. Grower David Dodson said that they have about 600 Cookies plants comprised of between 15 and 20 strains in a revolving state of flower.
“We consider Cookies to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, brands internationally and it’s great to be able to work with someone that has such great vision and can think outside of the box to get things done. We look forward to see where this takes us and the things that we can do with our partners here in Oklahoma,” Dodson said.
ALTVM grew a variety of strains currently on shelves like Cheetah Piss, Lemon Pepper and Gary Payton and currently have strains like Azul Runtz and Ocean Beach in production, he said.
Dodson said they have reached out to grower friends in the industry to help with cultivation.
“They need more production because of how popular demand is and they’re opening a lot more stores here really quickly, so in order to keep up with the demand, we looked toward some of our friends and people that we think grow on the same level as us to help fill that void,” he said.
ALTVM won a High Times Cannabis Cup this year for its Lilac Diesel in the sativa flower category and took a second-place finish for its Garlic Breath in the indica category, but has back-burnered some of their own strains to put forth Cookies flower.
“It’s frustrating because we have a lot of new genetics that we’ve been working on and developing and because we’ve cut our canopy space in half by producing four Cookies as well, we’re limited on the strains that we can produce ourselves. However, we’ve been working on acquiring a lot more growth space to change that,” Dodson said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stifled the company’s plans for larger events currently, but maintains that they adhere to strict standards to keep patients safe while shopping.
“As much as we would like to do bigger events, due to COVID-19, keeping our customers’ and employees’ safe is paramount. Cookies is adhering to all CDC guidelines to help stop the spread of the pandemic. Gatherings of people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people, so we strongly are discouraging any celebrations or events of any kind at our stores. We are taking all safety precautions seriously and enforcing that all customers & staff need to maintain 6 feet (2 arm lengths) apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations,” Carr said.