Celebrity cannabis brands on sale in Arkansas

Celebrity cannabis brands on sale in Arkansas

This article first appeared on arkansascannabiz.com, the Arkansas Times new online publication of the marijuana industry.

TThe celebs have made it to Arkansas. Or at least their cannabis brands.

Cannabis flower and other products associated with celebrities such as comedy duo Cheech and Chong, basketball player Gary Payton and rappers Method Man, Rick Ross and Run the Jewels hit Arkansas shelves this year.

Cookies, led by its founder Berner, is a well-known brand in the cannabis world. While not affiliated with any particular A-lister, the Cookies brand has its own celebrity appeal. Berner’s by Good Day Farm, a West Little Rock dispensary, sells the largest selection of Cookies cannabis products in the state.

While the celebrities may be familiar to customers, the business arrangements that allow the products to be sold here are not. Because of federal cannabis law, national brands cannot operate like brands in other industries. The workarounds are a bit complicated, but in the end, Arkansas consumers have a chance to buy cannabis products that carry the star’s seal of approval.

How does it work?

Like many things in the cannabis industry, it’s complicated. While cannabis is legal in many states, it is still illegal at the federal level, meaning businesses cannot operate across state lines. Instead, the state-based companies operate in locations where cannabis is legal at the state level.

Marijuana is legal in 38 states for medical use and 19 states for adult use, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. It’s legal for medical use in Arkansas, and a group is trying to get a state amendment to the constitution to legalize adult use of marijuana in November.

Due to federal law, national cannabis brands cannot manufacture products in a single manufacturing facility for distribution across the country. Instead, the national brands work with individual growers in states where cannabis is legal to produce a product that is sold under the brand name and with the brand’s unique packaging and marketing.

The brands cannot be franchised due to state cannabis laws, said Sumer Thomas, director of regulatory operations at Canna Advisors in Boulder, Colorado. Instead, the brand uses licensing agreements with breeders in the States.

The product

So what is the product exactly? It differs from brand to brand. Some brands use their own unique plants (known in the industry as genetics), while others work with local breeders to select the right proprietary strain.

For example, imagine Coca-Cola. If someone buys a can of Coke in Little Rock or Las Vegas, they get the same drink in a can. But that’s not always the case with cannabis. National brands don’t often license their own genetics into their products. Instead, they work with local breeders to find a flower strain that meets the brand’s expectations for quality, THC levels, terpenes, effects, and more.

So the product you buy in a national brand’s packaging carries that brand’s stamp of approval and meets their expectations, but the products in the packaging vary from state to state.

In some cases, like cookies, the brand provides its own genetics. This means that the product a customer buys in the box is generally the same regardless of where it is bought.

But cannabis plants aren’t like recipes where you can whip up the ingredients and get the same results over and over again. As Annie Iselin, BOLD’s senior director of operations, points out, cannabis plants are grown in different states by different breeders. Results may vary.

“Every time you harvest plants, it’s not going to be exactly the same,” she said.

Iselin doesn’t see much of a difference between a brand using their own genetics or a breeder’s strains that meet the brand’s standards. She collaborates with Cheech and Chong Cannabis and Method Man’s TICAL brand and does not license her own genetics.

However, since products are different in each state, it’s important to note that brands can fall victim to a lack of consistency and quality.

Cookies

The Cookies brand was launched in Arkansas in April when Berner’s by Good Day Farm pharmacy opened in West Little Rock.

In Arkansas, Cookies works with Good Day Farm, the Jefferson County grower affiliated with a larger Good Day group that owns pharmacy Berner’s by Good Day Farm and manages dispensaries in Van Buren and Texarkana.

Berner’s by Good Day Farm stocks the largest selection of Cookies products in the state, according to Laurie Gregory, Good Day Farm’s chief marketing officer. Cookies products are also sold at select pharmacies across the state, including those not owned or controlled by Good Day Farm.

Founded in San Francisco by rapper Berner and “grow expert Jai”, Cookies has become a force in the industry. Berner, real name Anthony Milam Jr., said he turned down an offer of mostly shares worth $800 million for the early-stage company. Now he says the company is worth more than $1 billion. If true, it would be the first $1 billion legal cannabis brand, reports Business Insider.

Cookies has a wide range of strains such as Red Velvet, Big Face, Laughing Gas, Cereal Milk and Fish Scale. Cookies also produces the Gary Payton strain and Collins Ave, rapper Rick Ross’s cannabis brand.

Cheech and Chong

BOLD Cultivation of Cotton Plant launched the first famous brand in the state in February when it brought on board the Cheech and Chong Cannabis Company. If you’re reading this story, you’re probably familiar with Tommy Chong and Richard “Cheech” Marin, the marijuana-inspired comedy duo that rose to fame in the ’70s and ’70s with films like Up in Smoke and Still Smokin’. 80s

Chong and Marin each previously launched their own cannabis brands before co-founding Cheech and Chong Cannabis Company.

In Arkansas, BOLD produces the Tommy Chong Cannabis and Cheech and Chong’s brands. Marin’s brand, called Cheech’s Private Stash, is not sold in Arkansas.

The Cheech and Chong Cannabis Company does not offer its own genetics. Instead, Iselin worked with the company to find the right strains for the Arkansas brands.

In Arkansas, the varieties are Cheech and Chong Panama Red, Hash Plant, and Acapulco Gold. The Cheech and Chong brands receive the premium nuggets of these three strains, while smaller nuggets are sold at a lower price point than Tommy Chong’s cannabis.

FAME MEETS FLOWER: Celebrity strains like TICAL by rapper Method Man are produced and sold in Arkansas.

TABLE

The newest celebrity brand hitting Arkansas shelves is TICAL by rapper Method Man named Clifford Smith Jr. from the famous New York rap group Wu-Tang Clan. The brand, which stands for Taking Into Consideration All Lives, was launched in 2020 by the rapper and actor.

BOLD launched TICAL in May with the Heavy CREAM strain, a 25% THC strain that Weed Maps describes as relaxed and euphoric. BOLD released a second TICAL strain called Glueball in July, an indica-dominant hybrid strain with 27% THC.

TICAL, pronounced tih-KAL, does not license its own genetics. Iselin worked with TICAL executives to find the right varieties for the Arkansas market while meeting all of the company’s standards.

“We have parameters [with T.I.C.A.L.] in terms of THC content, in terms of how many buds can there be in an eighth glass, because they want to be known as premium,” Iselin said.

success

While some brands are well-known and very successful, one industry expert says one should not make assumptions about brands’ success in new markets.

Michael Werner, senior business development manager at Canna Advisors, said cannabis use shouldn’t be oversimplified. Just because a brand is successful in one part of the country doesn’t mean it will be successful elsewhere, he said.

For example, he said, people drink wine in Sonoma, California, beer in the Chicago suburbs, and cocktails in Manhattan.

“It’s all alcohol, but very different cultures and vibes and approaches,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh wow. Cookies is incredibly recognizable, it will kill it in New York. It could be, but you can’t assume that.”

Addison Aquino, a budtender at CROP Pharmacy in Jonesboro, said the customers he saw didn’t really know who Berner was, but they were familiar with Method Man and Cheech and Chong.

“Pretty much everyone knows Cheech and Chong,” he said.

Aquino said the celebrity brands are more expensive and that the cheaper, non-celebrity strains sourced from Arkansas grow facilities are good and affordable.

“The celebrity strains are like everyone else,” he said. “But you get a cool package. I’m sure that’s part of it for some people.”

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