Popular Cannabis Brands Available in Arkansas

Popular Cannabis Brands Available in Arkansas

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

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

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 shelves in Arkansas this year.

Cookies, led by its founder Berner, is a well-known brand in the world of cannabis. Although not associated with a specific A-lister, the Cookies brand has its own celebrity appeal. Berner’s by Good Day Farm, a dispensary in West Little Rock, sells the widest selection of Cannabis Cookies 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. Due to federal cannabis law, national brands cannot operate as brands in other industries. The workarounds are a bit complicated, but ultimately, Arkansas consumers have a chance to buy cannabis products that bear the seal of approval of the stars.

How it works?

Like many things in the cannabis industry, it’s complicated. Although cannabis is legal in many states, it is still illegal at the federal level, meaning companies cannot operate across state lines. Instead, companies operate on a state-by-state basis in places where cannabis is legal at the state level.

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

Due to federal law, national cannabis brands cannot manufacture products in a single manufacturing facility to distribute nationwide. Instead, 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.

Brands can’t be franchises because of federal cannabis laws, said Summer Thomas, director of regulatory operations for Canna Advisors in Boulder, Colo. Instead, the brand uses licensing agreements with growers in the states.

The product

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

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

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

In some cases, as with cookies, the brand provides its own genetics. This means that the product the customer buys in the bundle is generally the same regardless of where it is purchased.

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

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

Iselin doesn’t see much difference in whether a brand uses its own genetics or uses a grower’s strains that meet the brand’s standards. She works with the Cheech and Chong Cannabis brand and Method Man’s TICAL, and neither licenses their own genetics.

But because the products are different in each state, some warn that brands can fall victim to a lack of consistency and quality.

Cookies

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

In Arkansas, Cookies works with Good Day Farm, the Jefferson County grower that is affiliated with the larger Good Day Group, which owns the Berner’s by Good Day Farm dispensary and operates dispensaries in Van Buren and Texarkana.

Berner’s by Good Day Farm offers the largest variety of cookies in the state, according to Lori Gregory, Good Day Farm’s chief marketing officer. The cookies are also sold at select dispensaries across the state, including those not owned or operated by Good Day Farm.

Cookies was founded by rapper Berner and “grow expert Jai” in San Francisco and has become a force in the industry. Berner, whose real name is Anthony Milam Jr., said he rejected a mostly stock offer 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 billion-dollar legal cannabis brand, Business Insider reports.

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

Cheech and Chong

BOLD Cultivation of Cotton Plant introduced the state’s first celebrity brand in February when it brought the Cheech and Chong Cannabis Company on board. If you’re reading this story, you’re probably familiar with Tommy Chong and Richard “Cheech” Marin, the marijuana-inspired comedy duo who rose to fame with movies like Up On Smoke and Still Smoking in the 1970s and 1980s.

Chong and Marin each previously launched their own cannabis brands before starting the Cheech and Chong Cannabis Company together.

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.

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

In Arkansas, the Cheech and Chong strains are Panama Red, Hash Plant, and Acapulco Gold. The Cheech and Chong brand gets the premium bites from these three strains, while the smaller bites are sold at a lower price like Tommy Chong’s cannabis.

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

TICAL

The latest celebrity brand to hit shelves in Arkansas is TICAL by rapper Method Man, aka Clifford Smith Jr., of the famous New York rap group Wu-Tang Clan. The brand, which stands for Taking Into Consideration All Lives, was founded by the rapper and actor in 2020.

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

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 the THC level, in terms of how many bites can be in an eighth jar, because they want to be known as premium,” Iselin said.

Good luck

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

Michael Werner, senior business development manager at Canna Advisors, said consuming cannabis should not 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 booze, but a lot of different cultures, vibes and approaches,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, wow. The cookies are incredibly recognizable, they would kill them in New York. Maybe, but you can’t just accept that.

Addison Aquino, a specialist at the CROP dispensary in Jonesboro, said the customers he’s seen don’t really know who Berner is, but are familiar with Method Man and Cheech and Chong.

“Everybody pretty much knows Cheech and Chong,” he said.

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

“Celebrity strains are on par with everyone else,” he said. “You get a cool package though. I’m sure that’s part of it for some people.

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