In the cannabis world, the Cookies brand needs little introduction.
Founded by rapper Berner in the early 2010s, few cannabis companies have changed the game as Cookies has. Within just a few short years, Cookies has put its mark on everything from hoodies to dispensaries and globally-recognized strains like Girl Scout Cookies.
However, one place is doing all it can to resist playing host to the newest — and perhaps most famous — Cookies cannabis dispensary.
While technically located in LA’s 5th district, the Cookies Melrose store is close enough to the city of West Hollywood that residents and city employees there are calling for its shutdown.
On the surface, WeHo city manager Paul Arevalo has made his contention with Cookies about noise, trash, and crime complaints. According to Arevalo, Cookies patrons are flouting social distancing guidelines amid a pandemic and are — quite simply — running amok in his fair city.
But, Mr. Arevalo, what’s it really all about?
It’s best not to mince words here.
West Hollywood is one of the most affluent areas in Los Angeles, with a median household income of $56,000. It also has a much higher median age than the rest of Los Angeles (35), coming in at an average 40.5 years old. Only a tiny 5% of the population is under the age of 20.
Last but certainly not least, West Hollywood boasts an 89% white population, which stands in stark contrast to its barely-there 3.2% black population. Make of these numbers what you will, but at the end of the day, it’s safe to say that you don’t see black WeHo residents all too often.
Combine these demographic factors with a very diverse Cookies clientele coming from other parts of Los Angeles, and it isn’t hard to see why the dispensary is evoking such strong defensive responses from locals.
A glide through the comments left on a WEHOville report about Melrose residents “….Finding Cookies Distateful” tells you everything you need to know. In one comment, Dude Kembroclaims plenty of other local businesses have “colorful” clientele after criticizing the color of the Cookies building itself; Freudian slip, anyone?
Not in our backyard, unless you look like us
The laundry list of complaints is enough to satisfy any NIMBY checklist. Allegations of increased property crime, loitering, jaywalking, noise, side street traffic, and the smell of weed in the air all populate locals’ concerns.
However, in an area famed for the Sunset Strip excess of clubs like The Viper Room, it’s worth wondering whether this is about who is making the noise, rather than the noise itself.
As Berner has made clear, Cookies has jumped through hoops to ensure the Melrose location is not only compliant with local laws but far surpasses them. The dispensary has implemented far-reaching efforts like a dedicated neighborhood hotline, a full-detail security staff roaming the store’s vicinity, and has intentionally slowed sales.
The rigor of Cookies’ operation detail is likely unsurpassed by any other local business, yet it appears to be the victim of its own success. Cookies is a massive hit with people of color operating in a neighborhood that sees few of them.
Should Berner and the Cookies crew stand down in the face of Arevalo’s assault on a fully compliant business? The answer is no, but it’s up to the city of Los Angeles to concur that a diverse crowd can patronize any city — including West Hollywood.
Hazey Taughtme. "In West Hollywood, Cookies Dispensary Confronted by Racially Motivated Complaints, Berner Calls BS — Black Cannabis Magazine." Black Cannabis Magazine, 9 Nov. 2020, blackcannamag.com/in-west-hollywood-cookies-dispensary-confronted-by-racially-motivated-complaints-berner-calls-bs/.
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