In less than a decade, Gilbert “Berner” Milam Jr., has turned his brand, Cookies, into a half-a-billion dollar a year enterprise. He isn’t a tech mogul turned cannabis enthusiast. He doesn’t come from a long history of money or connections. Berner is a hard-working rapper and former budtender who loves the herb. In 2013, he trademarked “COOKIES SF” as a manufacturer of t-shirts and sweatshirts so he could hang a trademarked sign outside his dispensaries. Since no one can obtain a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a federally illegal substance, this was the only way to prevent others from using the name and profiting off his work. This clever maneuver was a pivotal step in Berner’s success. His dominion over one of America’s favorite strains allowed the brand to gain global prestige. To discover what combination of drive, innovation, and ingenuity is required for such a meteoric rise, we spoke with Berner from his San Francisco recording studio via phone for the spring 2021 issue.
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