After a long wait and with much fanfare, lifestyle brand-turned-Vaunted Cannabis Company Cookies has officially entered the St. Louis market.
The popular San Francisco-based brand, founded in 2010 by rapper Berner and Bay Area breeder and grower Jai, has teamed up with Swade Cannabis to release its products on the Show-Me State. Cookies teamed up with Swade’s cultivation arm, BeLeaf Medical, to bring its strains to Swade’s five St. Louis locations on May 15, even celebrating the launch with an after-party at the Whiskey Ring.
According to Swade’s dispensary operations manager Jack Haddox, Cookies’ entry into the Missouri medical marijuana market took about two years.
“When Missouri started licensing in 2019, 2020, Cookies actually approached us and wanted to buy one of our dispensaries,” he says. “At the time, we didn’t really want to do that; we wanted to keep our licenses. But because it could be a good long-term partner, we kept the conversations going, kept things going.
When BeLeaf secured three cultivation licenses, Haddox says Cookies again reached out with a new proposition: to be cultivation partners.
“So that means we can basically grow their strains, their proprietary genetics, and bring that branding and that product to Missouri,” he says.
The end result is a range of flower varieties that includes Pavè, Apples & Bananas, Red Velvet, Helium, White Runtz, Medellin and Emerald Cut. A highly sought-after strain named after NBA legend Gary Payton, who Cookies partnered with when the strain was initially released, is also expected to arrive in St. Louis within the next two weeks. Haddox says they have already seen a lot of anticipation for the release of this cultivar.
“It’s getting a lot of attention because it’s named after Gary Payton, and it’s just a quality strain,” he explains. “So people see that there’s his picture on the bag, on the packaging, and that’s one of those things that kind of took off.”
Payton is just one of many high-profile names associated with the Cookies brand. The company has also partnered with a number of hip-hop celebrities including Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and Run the Jewels. In fact, two of the strains currently on the St. Louis market, Red Velvet and Helium, are part of Rick Ross’ line.
I took a trip to Swade’s location in the grove on a recent sunny afternoon to pick up some of the hot new stuff myself. After perusing the wares and poking my nose into a handful of jars, I settled on helium, whose strong citrus scent appealed to me. It cost me just under $60 for an eighth after tax.
But before digging, I asked Haddox to give me the stump details.
“So it’s actually a cross between two of their other very famous strains, Cheetah Piss and Sour Cookies, which by themselves don’t sound very appealing,” he admits with a laugh. “But these are two really popular strains. And it was actually originally created by a breeder called Lemonnade, who historically bred and cultivated very strong “sativa” strains in quotes, therefore more inspiring and creative strains.
“You’ll like helium a lot,” Haddox assured me. “If you look at a helium balloon, it will fly away. You could too.
I will be the judge of that. I ripped the bag open on a Thursday night and was immediately smacked in the face with this citrus and pine smell. Often when examining flowers in Missouri I found that I had to hunt for a little weed aroma to access the more hidden scents, but with helium it was more like putting my nose in a can of Lemon Pledge. The dense strawberry-shaped buds were a dark forest green, covered in dark orange/rust coated hairs. Upon breaking, the inside was a bright lime green, generously speckled with small reflective trichome droplets, and my fingers got quite sticky – a grinder would probably be best for this sort of thing.
On inhale the flavor had a strong taste of fuel with an intensity that resembled what I would expect when doing dabs, but to my surprise on exhale it had more of a pleasant floral flavor and it was an exceptionally smooth smoke. “What did they do?” I wrote in my notes. Impressed, I decided to push my luck and took a massive rip off on my spoon pipe just to test the limits of this stuff. Again, to my surprise, I barely coughed, and when I did, it tasted a bit like gummy candy. Truly remarkable.
After four or five hits, I decided to put the bowl down—I could already tell this stuff was going to hit hard—and started playing a popular cowboy-themed video game that I enjoy. I was crossing the prairie on my noble horse, a horse named Britney Spurs, looking for a turkey to hunt, when I spotted my prey. Slowly, I pulled my rifle from my back and took aim, blasting the bird with a clean headshot. As I was victoriously approaching my kill, I moved my foot IRL and accidentally unplugged my Xbox with it, and was surprised at how devastated I was that I had interrupted my hunt for the informal turkey. In other words, this shit got me in the fucking zone.
Now paying more attention to my real, physical, non-cowboy surroundings rather than the virtual world, I soon found that I felt alert and creative, in keeping with this strain’s sativa reputation. I could best tell that was the case by the fact that I was taking far too many unnecessary notes for this review, writing things down that would definitely be of no use to anyone. (An example I found in the morning: “‘Charles Bark’ would be a hilarious name for a dog.”)
Overall, it felt like a strong, clean high with no couch lock and little appetite stimulation. My brain was pretty completely scrambled and I was having trouble concentrating, but in a good way, my mind pleasantly fluttering from thought to thought like a butterfly. My chronic pain, which had plagued me all week, wasn’t non-existent, but it wasn’t that insistent either. I didn’t feel a lot of anxiety, but I did note that I definitely could have gotten to a pretty anxious place if I hadn’t made the wise decision to quit before I finished the bowl. It’s high-end, potent stuff, and if that’s any indication of the overall quality of the Cookies strains, you can also sign me up to sample all the others on the market.
For now, that means stopping at one of Swade’s dispensaries. Haddox says the brand will eventually roll out to other stores in Missouri, but most of those will be across the state, so Swade can lure people into their own stores in the area. of Saint Louis. Surely that won’t be a problem once word of the cookies’ quality reaches the masses.
“The overwhelming majority of people have been very, very positive about strains and brands,” Haddox notes. “So it’s been great, and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”