The Cookies cannabis retail chain claims its marketing activities and business name have been misinterpreted and misconstrued by local regulators, who have been critical of the firm for allegedly targeting minors.
The business, which currently operates shops in La Mesa and Mission Valley, received clearance in June to expand to Sorrento Valley.
Previously, the San Diego Planning Commission and the Torrey Pines Community Planning Group stated that Cookies name and Sesame Street-style visuals suggesting the Cookie Monster figure attract juvenile customers.
In an interview, a Cookies official stated that the chain does not target underage young people, adding that the Cookies moniker doesn’t refer to actual cookies, but to matching clients with the best cannabis strain for them.
In an interview last week, a company representative stated that the chain does not target young teenagers, clarifying that the Cookies title refers not to actual cookies but connecting clients with the best cannabis variety for them.
Cookies officials say that, much like cookies, cannabis comes in a wide variety of strains, and consumers must identify the type that has the desired effect on their body.
“There is a long legacy with the name Cookies,” says Cookies VP Crystal Millican. “The whole experience has been tailored to the customer. We try to pair them one-on-one with a budtender as often as we can.”
According to local critics, Cookies name, font, and light blue color are all intended to attract minors.
“I hate the name. I think it’s disingenuous to say it’s not attractive to young people,” stated Planning Commissioner James Whalen, who voted to allow the establishment of the new dispensary.
Millican said that the business, which runs 40 dispensaries in several states, believes it is nearly impossible to sell to kids since California mandates all dispensaries to have full-time security staff checking customer IDs.
In California, the minimum age to purchase adult-use cannabis is 21, and 18 for medicinal cannabis, which needs a physician’s recommendation.
Cookies Denies Marketing to Children
Millican explained that the company’s logos and signs are light blues since the hue has soothing effect on people that is similar to cannabis.
“We don’t market to anyone other than our customers and patients,” added Milican. “We obviously hear the concerns, and we will work to win over any neighborhood association.”
Cookies, Millican stated, is a model business in several aspects, including its dedication to restorative justice and progressive drug policy.
Next year, the business will open “Cookies University” in Humboldt County to train individuals for careers in the cannabis sector.
The program will focus on those who face hurdles to employment in the cannabis sector and have been affected in the past by cannabis criminalization, she explained.
It is consistent with the city of San Diego’s current plan to establish a cannabis equity program.
The program would utilize a portion of cannabis tax money to assist low-income individuals and minorities in entering the growing, legal cannabis sector.
Gilbert Anthony Milam Jr. and Jai Chang created Cookies in 2008.
Milam, who is also a Bay Area rapper, performs under the pseudonym Berner.
Abiding by Local Regulations
When regulators in San Diego first objected to the name Cookies, the business offered to use a capital C with a plus instead. However, San Diego’s cannabis legislation prohibits companies from having logos on their exteriors, only permitting letters.
Despite concerns voiced by its members, the Planning Commission decided 5-1 in June to allow the new Cookies dispensary in Sorrento Valley. The commissioners stated that the judgments must be based on zoning compatibility, not subjective opinions regarding a business’s name.
The city’s first Cookies shop is located on Mission Center Court, a seldom-used cul-de-sac off Mission Center Road.
Commissioner Whalen expressed frustration that the city approved the dispensary’s final permission in 2017 under a different name, then changed to Cookies.
A second Cookies location is now open in La Mesa. Millican noted that with the imminent establishment of a third dispensary, it is doubtful the firm would build other sites in San Diego in the near future.
“We don’t want to overly saturate San Diego County,” she explained.