Gather, earthlings. Leafly landed the world’s first look at the new strain collab between Erykah Badu’s Apple Trees and Cookies cannabis. See how ‘That Badu’ looks, how it smokes, and where to find it on March 8.
Erykah Badu’s history as a cannabis advocate is documented in songs like “On and On,” which was written and performed with the help of Mary Jane. This Women’s Month, Badu’s Apple Trees cannabis company will partner with Cookies cannabis to release “That Badu,” a strain packed with cannabinoids that Badu said cater to the needs of women. The drop will be available exclusively at all California Cookies and Lemonnade stores on March 8 to celebrate International Women’s Day. Eighths will be priced at $60 and pre-rolls will be priced at $12.
“The herb is for everybody, but we had women in mind,” Badu told Leafly in February. “(We want) to further the conversation on women’s studies in cannabinoids. (I’m) an advocate who uses the plant as medicine in my ritual work, my spiritual work, my art, my creativity. I also use it for my birth mothers as a doula. A doula is a person who helps babies to come through.”
Here’s what Badu and the Cookies team shared with Leafly about the exciting new drop.
About ‘That Badu’ cannabis strain by Erykah Badu and Cookies
“It’s a combination of cannabinoids in two different strains: Limoncello and Jet Fuel Gelato,” Badu told Leafly about the self-titled release. The strain was grown by Mad Cow Genetics, and Cookies CEO Berner said he’s been holding the genetics in anticipation of the right opportunity.
Limoncello 10 is a mix of the original Lemonnade and all-time great Cookies strain Cherry Pie. Berner said the Jet Fuel Gelato cross adds a one-of-a-kind punch to the wide-range of fruity flavors during a recent YouTube taste test of That Badu.
“It’s a very finicky plant. The cultivators didn’t really enjoy growing it as much as I enjoyed smoking it. It’s really something special. It’s different than everything that’s on the market right now. It’s got that Lemonnade, that Cherry Pie kind of smell.”
Berner continued: “This thing kicks your ass. It’s super funky, super strong. I’m actually really happy she picked this one. When we sat down and talked about a collaboration, she said she wanted something that stands out. Something euphoric, something special. I put in front of her about 4-5 things, and she picked this. This is something that I’ve been holding for a while.”
Badu recommends the strain to mothers and women looking to stay productive and alert. “It’s really nice and natural, sort of like a ballad,” Badu said in a clip promoting the strain. “It just makes you move light and it kind of gets you through your day and you’re not zooted.”
Erykah Badu on collaborating with Berner and the Cookies team
What made Erykah Badu choose Berner as her cannabis partner?
“Berner reached out years ago and I just wasn’t ready to do that yet,” she told The Breakfast Club last week. “He reached back out. And I said I think it’s time to do that. I noticed there was no area in the cannabinoid world where women were being focused on. So my focus is women’s studies in the body, in childbirth, in meditation, in religious studies, spirituality, casually, mothers, everyday people, and building a product line around their needs.”
Here’s what the Cookies team had to say about working with Erykah Badu:
“Erykah Badu is a woman that is shaping the world on her own terms. She is fearlessly herself, the consummate collaborator and soulfully breathes life into every effort she takes on whether it be through her music, fashion, bringing babies into the world as a doula, and now her new line of cannabis and wellness products. Badu is blazing yet another trail into the cannabis and wellness space where women too often feel unrepresented, unheard and unseen. Badu has been advancing the conversation on women’s wellness for years and is the female advocate cannabis businesses should take notes from. It felt right to bring the cultivar she curated with such care (“That Badu”) to market for all to enjoy in the month of March which is dedicated to the celebration of women that make a difference in our lives, and to those like Badu whose contributions make clear that a woman can pursue any dream while staying true to her inner voice.”
It ain’t easy in the weed world, for both small and large operators. Less than a quarter reported making a profit last year according to cannabis research company Whitney. So what’s the deal with lawsuits against one of the biggest private operators, Cookies, over corrupt practices? Is the company really guilty of bad behavior, or is it getting targeted, because it does well?
Part of what makes this story interesting, is the background of the brand, and the accomplishments of its leader, Gilbert Milam Jr.; who goes by the name Berner. Berner is a rap artist and marijuana provider, who started out in much more humble beginnings 25 years ago.
Prior to his success with Cookies, Berner was working in dispensaries like The Hemp Center. It was there that he began writing the music that made him famous in the rap world. As he gained prominence, he used the fame from his rap work, to begin his own weed enterprise. To this day, Berner sits as CEO of the company, and oversees every aspect of business.
According to Berner, via Insider, his company is now worth $1+ billion. If this is true, it makes it the first legal cannabis business to cross the billion dollar line. According to Berner, “Based on revenue, and growth, and potential growth, we’re definitely a billion-dollar company.” Whether it actually crossed this line officially or not, there’s no doubt that Cookies does very well.
The company operates in California, where it runs 49 dispensaries. The company also made a name for itself with a corresponding Cookies clothing line, which is sold throughout the world. Apparel is carried in US clothing store chains, as well as the company’s three flagship stores. Plus, its regularly advertised by Berner in his own music videos. The clothing line brings in a good amount of revenue, accounting for $50 million a couple years back, according to Berner via a podcast in late 2021.
Cookies started out as a hoodie line. Before the company was a thing, Berner began wearing the trademark hoodie with blue strings and matching logo. This led to a deal to use the logo on a storefront in San Jose in 2010. Eight years later, the first Cookies retail location opened. The company then proceeded to open all 49 locations, within a four-year period. Add onto that the three clothing stores in San Francisco, LA, and New York City; and Cookies is a full-on weed empire.
Part of what drives the success of the man and the brand, is that Berner comes from this culture; he’s not a corporate guy looking to take advantage of an industry. He’s got long-time connections, and a sort of street cred that makes him an authentic personality, within a sea of corporate neckties. Through these connections, and his experience; he created an award-winning collection of gene strains, and repeatedly creates high-value products.
Berner even moved on from just California, something not easy to do in the weed industry. Cookies products launched in Massachusetts in 2021, and New Jersey in 2022. While he works on setting up dispensaries in New York City, Berner opened a third flagship clothing store in the city in late 2022. That year, Cookies opened the largest medical dispensary in Israel, as well.
Cookies is a privately held company, and Berner so far refused to sell. Allegedly he was offered $800 million by a publicly traded Canadian company, which he turned down. He knows his importance to the company, and that it could fail in the wrong hands. He said “I wanna live forever through my work. I don’t think money’s gonna determine when I retire.” Cookies is one of the independent weed enterprises to really make it big, in what is otherwise a growing corporate world.
Is Cookies corrupt? 1st lawsuit
In April of 2023, it was reported that Berner was up to some shady tactics. Although whether this is true, or indicative of what happens to a mom and pop that grows and does well amid a corporate landscape of failure, is hard to say. It was reported in the LA Times that Berner was forcing other companies to pay him kickbacks to continue doing business together.
The accusations came from two lawsuits that were filed in LA County court. The suits allege threats of physical violence, or social media slandering if payments were not made on time; along with the inability to do business with the company if its demands were not met.
Cookies Retail Products filed the suit initially after a deal with Cookies to sell Cookies’ CBD products. CRP said it received pressure to increase orders, and up its use of affiliates and suppliers during this time. CRP then claimed it found out Cookies was taking third party kickbacks after CRP had invested millions, and inflating costs to pass these kickbacks through. In April it went back on all of this.
The 2nd lawsuit against Cookies
The second suit was filed on February 8th, by legal counsel for a group of investors claiming “Defendants’ pervasive wrongdoing has caused their own pockets to be lined while causing massive losses to Cookies and its shareholders.” The lawsuit gives an example of Berner taking $1 million in jewels as a 3rd-party kickback to do business with a company. It also mentions houses and cash that were traded, saying that Berner accepted all this to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The claim is partly based on the idea that some of these deals were not beneficial to the whole company.
The suit goes into Berner using Cookies to promote his musical career, and using company money for personal expenses. It also calls out Cookies President Parker Berling, with claims that Berling similarly used company money for personal uses, as well as trading off contract promises for investments in his other companies. According to the suit, via LA Times, “Often, third parties that refused were threatened. In some instances, Defendants even threatened to, or did, cause property and bodily injury.”
The lawsuit doesn’t point to examples of physical threats, but claims they were used to steal intellectual property from 3rd parties, including cannabis strains. The investors wanted Cookies to do its own investigation into Berling and Berner, but as of the April writing, Cookies refused to investigate its top tier. Cookies shot back that most of the claims don’t have a legal basis, and that the plaintiffs already filed with the American Arbitration Association. Cookies claims the investors are using the lawsuit to get around their own case; in which the investors did not want to provide evidence to arbitrators.
Berner addressed this in an Instagram post, claiming there were predatory investors who were trying to oust him and other top executives. “These guys have made extremely false, damaging claims about myself that are completely just untrue, and I really look forward to the day in court that we can prove that these claims are false. They’re trying to remove me [and] current leadership from Cookies.”
A 3rd lawsuit
One lawsuit was retracted, and the other ongoing. Amid this, Cookie was hit by a 3rd lawsuit, filed by marijuana breeding company SeedJunky, as per SFGate. According to the suit, the two companies were in business together from 2019, under the name Minntz. SeedJunky alleges that Cookies executives cooked the books of Minntz, at SeedJunky’s expense.
The lawsuit also claims that Cookies sold stains of cannabis that were stolen from SeedJunky, but without credit to SeedJunky. The products are sold only under the Cookies name. Further to all this, the suit alleges Cookies gave SeedJunky’s staff falsified financial data concerning the operations of the two companies.
According to Berner in an Instagram post, the lawsuit is false, and SeedJunky is upset over the failure of itself. The post video is no longer up, but apparently Berner quite brashly stated, per SFGate, “Dude’s been crying like a little b**** on Instagram for a long time, throwing subliminals. … You failed, bro, you failed. Seed Junky did not pop.” The case is set to have a hearing on September 15th in LA. The previous case, involving the investors, is set for a hearing on July 26th.
It’s hard to say if Cookies was really up to no good, or if this is what happens when you’re one of the only guys to do well in an industry filled with corporations tanking out. While other companies fail so badly that they’re being kicked off stock exchanges; and governments (Canada, Santa Barbara) are going after them to pay taxes; Cookies is thriving. Maybe that says a lot in the end. No one likes the winner, when they’re losing.
On the other hand, if the accusations are true, its a very clear indication that this is absolutely a non-functional market. If the companies actually doing well must resort to such tactics, it means things are pretty bad. California recently reported a desire to root out corruption in the industry. But maybe we wouldn’t be talking as much about corruption, if governments set up workable systems.
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For International Women’s Day, Erykah Badu joined Leafly for a quick sesh to discuss what strain she’s smoking, how cannabis helps her perform, and which healthy munchies she loves to snack on when her high is coming down.
Didn’t cha know? Leafly landed the first look at Erykah Badu’s new strain collab with Cookies, appropriately titled That Badu.
With That Badu dropping in Cookies and Lemonnade stores across California today (March 8), we got to talk to Ms. Badu about her relationship with cannabis—from getting her first contact high back in the day, to using the plant to help write songs and heal others as a doula—our chat could have gone on and on.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Erykah joined us for a quick sesh to discuss what strain she’s smoking, how cannabis helps her perform, and which munchies she loves to snack on when her high is coming down.
What are you smoking?
“Well, right now my favorite is C-7, but you’ll know that as That Badu. C-7 was just the working name we used, it’s a combination of cannabinoids in two different strains, and they are Limoncello and Jet Fuel Gelato.”
We had women in mind. It was interesting to me to further the conversation on women’s studies in cannabinoids… As a doula, and an advocate who uses the plant medicine in my ritual work, my spiritual work, my art, my creativity, I also use it for my birth mothers as a doula. A doula is a person who helps babies to come through. And I also serve as a doula for the rest bed. That means people who are dying, going to another place.
So [cannabis is] used in tinctures and lotions for labor pains and soreness. The flower itself is crushed up and eaten. Cannabis has been used in ritual work and spiritual work for women for centuries and centuries. And I think it’s important that we start using some of this language so that we begin to respect this gift that we have been given, which we use in our culture is self-medication. But the research was done specifically with women in mind.
When did you fall in love with cannabis?
What are your favorite munchies to snack on?
“My favorite munchies: I like kale chips. The kale chips when they are baked with seasonings, like yeast flakes and lemon pepper, and things like that. I like something savory and tangy. Other people may go toward the sweet stuff, but I like the savory tangy thing. Snacks.”
5 best THC-infused junk food snacks
How does cannabis help you perform?
“I’ve noticed it mostly in my art, where my art aligns with my spirituality. It’s the bed in which those things can become one, can be married—Art, spirituality—cannabinoids are one avenue for that. And we take advantage of that. I tell my band, either we all sober or we are all high, on this show, which one y’all wanna do? Because it really aligns us as artists and we become one living, breathing organism and that energy transfers to the audience. And it’s all spirit work. You know, we try not to abuse it. In my world, it’s all spirit work.”
“It provides a space of safety for an artist. You don’t feel guilty or self-conscious. And there’s a paranoia, but it’s the good kind of paranoia, that is a natural instinct. It helps us to align with the natural instincts that we have. Especially me with my band when we’re in legal states. We become one living, breathing organism, because the plant medicine is a real energy. You know, it’s a spirit that contains all of us when we are in the same euphoric state. So the performances are different. It’s slower, but it’s potent.”
“When we get out there, we like to be aligned and on one accord, because we don’t have rehearsals. You know, we just go out and I call our songs. And we somehow make them flow together. If everybody in the building smoking, we already know that ahead of time. Cause we smell it. So we know this is our smoking show.”
On working with Berner and Cookies
“I f*** with Berner. First of all, he is a dope MC and I love his music. I’m part of his cult following… I be YouTubing the shit outta Berner. But, um, that wasn’t it though. It wasn’t that he was a B-Boy, and ’cause I’m a B-girl. That wasn’t it. And then I tasted his weed and I saw his presentation in his labs and things, but that wasn’t it. It was the fact that he was so open and kind to me about it.”
“As someone who was getting into his field and obviously a very competitive field since the legalization phase has started across the country. He was giving with his words, his studies, his contacts, he was just a plug completely, you know, and it created this comfort for me. He mentors me, guides me along the humble beginnings of my journey as a grower, as a connoisseur, as an advocate, as an activist, you know? So that’s what it was. It was his kindness and his beauty as a human. Yeah.”
On her new documentary ‘Pussy & Weed’
“I’m looking forward to furthering the dialogue and maybe changing the narrative that was once taboo with women and not only just women. I’m gonna interview men as well to see how you feel about women in cannabinoids and this arena growing.”
Year after year, the Cookies team stamps new strains that go on to become all-time greats. From GSC to Gary Payton, here are Cookies’ most legendary contributions to the greater cannabis gene pool.
Cookies Head of Genetics Jai “Jigga” Chang mostly stays behind the scenes, despite Cookies’ global popularity. With 58 stores in 18 markets across six countries, Cookies was named one of America’s Hottest Brands of 2021 by AdAge. The hype is backed up by Chang’s groundbreaking strains like Gelato, Gary Payton, and strain that bore the brand’s name, GSC (short for Girl Scout Cookies).
Cookies strains and their descendants have been fixtures in the top 10 of Leafly’s most searched strains year after year. In 2017, GSC and Gelato began charting nationally among all-timers like Blue Dream and Sour Diesel. By 2022, Jealousy and Gary Payton joined the long line of Cookies fam genetics to crack Leafly’s top 10 most searched strains. A staggering 70% of Leafly’s 10 most searched strains in 2023 can be traced back to Chang’s genetics.
From classic Kushes, to rare exotics, here are the Cookies cannabis strains that continue to change the game.
F1 Durban Poison
Chang’s hall of fame cultivation resume started with F1 Durban Poison, which he began growing in 1998. The strain is considered to serve as the foundation of the entire Cookies family tree.
Chang crossed his exclusive stash of F1 Durban Poison with GDP (Grandaddy Purple) to make Cherry Pie. Those sweet genetics continue to power heavy hitters to this day.
In the early 2000s, before there was a legal cannabis market, Chang’s team aimed to push the envelope of modern Kush while working out of a grow house in San Francisco’s Sunset District. There, they are believed to have perfected Cherry Pie and GSC.
Back then, Chang worked in the healthcare field and provided Cherry Pie to HIV/AIDS patients. At the same time, Chang and the Cookies gang flooded the streets with the original Girls Scout Cookies strain, aka GSC. More than two decades later, GSC and its most famous descendants continue to dominate both legal and unlicensed markets, setting a standard for cannabis connoisseurs worldwide.
GSC (Girl Scout Cookies)
Cookies’ first hit strain went big around 2011 thanks to shoutouts from rappers like Wiz Khalifa and Cookies CEO Berner. But Chang says the original GSC genetics had been on the streets since about 2005.
“We knew right away. The smell was unique, it had the shiniest, densest nugs, and it held its flavor,” Chang said of the first GSC crop. The people agreed, and GSC grew so legendary that Girl Scouts of the USA even claimed trademark misappropriation. The simple solution was to drop the GS and simply use “Cookies” to refer to the strain and the brand.
Just as Cookies was going mainstream, Chang’s team took another great leap with Sherbet, which helped set the standard for more sweet dessert strains that continue to make a splash in the market today. “Sherbet,” also known as “Sherbert OG” and “Sunset Sherbet,” is an indica-dominant hybrid marijuana strain that’s a cross of Girl Scout Cookies and Pink Panties.
This strain produces powerful, full-body effects that are elevated by a jolt of cerebral energy and a carefree state of mind. The dessert-like flavor profile lives on in Gelato, Jealousy, and many other candy-sweet strains of today. Sherbert was originally bred by Mr. Sherbinski, who bred the strain to inherit the genetic lineage of parent strain Girl Scout Cookies.
This collaboration with Mario Guzman of Sherbinskis continues to define the “Exotic” terpene profile for many cannabis connoisseurs today. In 2021, Leafly’s Danté Jordan said it’s the best strain he’s ever tried, and many smokers agree.
Gelato’s genetic profile is a cross of Sunset Sherbert and Thin Mint GSC. “It tastes like a hashy grape-flavored ice cream cone without the calories,” according to Jordan. In 2014, Mario Guzman (Mr. Sherbinski) worked with Chang (aka Jigga), to produce Gelato’s dense, purple-and-orange–accented flowers.
Leafly’s 2020 strain of the year was the perfect storm of fire genetics and brilliant marketing. At the end of 2020, it shot to the top of Leafly’s strain database popularity charts, and it has rarely left the top 10 since. The meteoric rise came after Yung LB, Ray Bama, and the Runtz gang debuted the strain at the 2020 Emerald Cup Harvest Ball. The rest is history.
The Cookies Fam created Runtz genetics by crossing Zkittlez with Gelato. The fruity flavor profile that was born smells like a bag of the popular fruit-shaped candy. Growers say this strain has resin-drenched buds that range in color from rich purple to lime green, and smokers rave about its creamy smoke that’s smooth and inviting. This strain of weed produces euphoric highs and uplifting effects that are known to be long-lasting. Purple Caper Seeds released the same cross under the name Gelato Zkittlez.
This strain will stick to your brain like a glove. It’s named after a basketball legend who doesn’t even smoke weed. The super sticky masterpiece proved on a grand scale that OGs still matter back in 2019. This superbly funky Kush checks all the boxes for classic tokers who want bright greens and sour skunkiness, not the sweet purple “zaza” profile many breeders are now chasing.
Payton’s genetic lineage goes deep. It started as a collab between Cookies and Powerzzz Genetics. It quickly became a hit, thanks to the dynamic combination of the Y and Snowman breeds. Remember, GP has high amounts of THC and almost no CBD, but is known for a balanced and chill high that’s consistently satisfying.
Apples and Bananas
Released in 2019, Apples and Bananas is a hybrid weed strain made from a genetic cross between Blue Power and Gelatti. Leafly customers tell us Apples and Bananas’ effects include happiness and euphoria, and medical marijuana patients often choose Apples and Bananas when dealing with symptoms tied to anxiety, depression, and stress. Bred by Cookies and Compound Genetics, Apples and Bananas features flavors like apple, pear, and tree fruit, and is chock full of myrcene.
Here’s what one Leafly verified user had to say about The Soap: “This strain could also be called ‘the cleaner’. It will remove any old lingering residuals from previously smoked strains. Top class high and zero anxiety or panic. Toker for over 25 years. Tried well over a hundred strains. This is one of (my) all time faves. Like a more mellow dreamier.”
A cross between Animal Mints 9 and Kush Mints 11, The Soap is among Cookies’ most legendary strains. It smells kind of soapy, but sweet. The head rush can be great for daytime smokers. “Best tasting flower I’ve ever had in 18 years of smoking. Checks every box,” said another Leafly reviewer. “Smell, look, taste, smoothness high (have) everything that comes along with smoking.”
London Pound Cake
London Pound Cake, also known as “Pound Cake,” is an indica-dominant marijuana strain made by crossing Sunset Sherbert with an unknown heavy-hitting indica. The Cookies original boasts legendary bag appeal. It’s iconic Queen Elizabeth-inspired imagery is displayed on the Cookies NYC store mural, and its fat, fiery nugs will entice your nose, eyes, and fingers.
New Cookies store lights up downtown NYC [Photo gallery]
Genetically, London Pound Cake offers a loud berry and grape flavor that’s backed by sharp lemon and citrus overtones. In terms of effects, expect a head and body high that will leave you blissed out on the couch. Medical marijuana patients tell Leafly that they often choose London Pound Cake to relieve symptoms associated with fatigue and depression.
Cereal Milk is a hybrid marijuana strain from Cookies. The Cereal Milk strain is made by crossing Y Life (Girl Scout Cookies x Cherry Pie) and Snowman, a sativa-dominant Cookies pheno. Cereal Milk has a loud flavor with a sweet milk and ice cream nose that will keep you dipping back into your stash. You can expect dense, quality nugs dripping with trichomes and a potent high.
Looking for the next Cookies strain with hall of fame potential? Not much is known about Congo Kashmir, for now. But Berner recently told Pothead University that this is currently his favorite strain to puff on. You can find pre-rolls at Berner’s Merced in California, and other select locations.
We don’t have many details on the genetic profile yet, but we can already see hype building for Congo Kashmir based on big Bern’s co-sign, and the exotic name alone.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates on this next evolution of Cookies’ legendary lineage.