In the rapidly-evolving legal cannabis industry, we’ve gone from complete prohibition to limited medical markets to widespread retail markets in a few short years. In order for licensed producers to compete in the retail marketplace, the need to develop powerful consumer brands has become an incredibly important step for success. Companies that manage to marry high-quality, consistent products with an effective branding strategy could move to the forefront over the coming quarters as the production boom levels out.
Rubicon Organics (CSE: ROMJ) (OTCQX: ROMJF), a Canadian Licensed Producer with operations in British Columbia and Washington, recently announced a bold move forward by partnering with the iconic California lifestyle and cannabis brand, Cookies. With two other existing brands to its name (Supplied by 1964and Doctor & Crook Co.), Rubicon is building a highly coveted brand portfolio to pair with its proprietary organic cultivation methodologies. By combining premium organic cannabis with the already-popular Cookies empire, Rubicon is aggressively advancing its vision of becoming a North American cannabis mainstay.
What’s the Big Deal with Cookies?
Cookies is a brand empire developed in the Bay Area by Berner and Jigga. Berner is a rapper, record label executive, and serial entrepreneur. Jigga is a cannabis breeder who is generally credited with creating the wildly popular Girl Scout Cookies (aka ‘Cookies’ or ‘GSC’) strain. The “Cookie Fam” was formed by combining Berner’s marketing savvy and extensive reach in the cannabis-friendly rap music world with the top shelf genetics developed by Jigga and his fellow breeders. Many other award-winning strains have been developed by the Fam since, and Berner has expanded the organization’s influence by opening Cookies-branded dispensaries and selling Cookies-branded clothing.
The clothing line actually plays a key and interesting role in the success of the brand. Trademarks are not issued for cannabis in the United States due to its illegal federal status. Berner developed a clothing and lifestyle line around the Cookies brand and trademarked that, providing protection for the cannabis brand through something of a side door. It is a brilliant workaround in a legal environment that makes the branding of cannabis strains very difficult…and it’s working.
The current Cookies universe is a positive feedback loop of award-winning and market-defining cannabis strains, urban cool clothing and accessories, social media savvy, rap industry credibility. Cookies strains are regularly listed among the top sellers across the nation as growers have purchased clones of the plant and worked their own variations on the theme. The company operates a number of branded dispensaries across California as well as the clothing and accessories store in San Francisco.
Rubicon Organics has built its cultivation operation around the principles of organic and sustainable farming practices, advanced hybrid greenhouse design, and (somewhat surprisingly) low-cost production. The company owns a 40,000 square foot high-tech, venlo-style facility in the state of Washington as well as a similarly built 125,000 square foot facility in British Columbia which will begin producing 11,000 kg of super premium organic cannabis in 2020. Due to state licensing requirements, the facility in Washington is leased to an operator who employs Rubicon’s proprietary organic cultivation techniques to grow premium organic cannabis – with 4,500 kg of cannabis production slated for 2020.
Those techniques were developed by Rubicon’s executive team following their experience in launching Whistler Medical Marijuana, Canada’s first certified organic licensed producer, several years ago. Rubicon’s CEO co-founded Whistler Medical, and Rubicon’s Chief Science Officer (CSO) helped to guide the company through the organic certification process. A Professional Agrologist, Rubicon’s CSO has long been a central figure in British Columbia’s robust sustainable and organic farming scene. He contributed to the Certified Organic Standard for Canadian Greenhouse Production of Vegetables and wrote the first draft for the BC’s only standard for organic cannabis certification under the Frasier Valley Organic Producers Association (FVOPA).
After leaving Whistler Medical, the two embarked on several years of experimentation with organic greenhouse growing methods and materials. The result is Rubicon Organics, fueled by passion for and expertise in sustainable, organic, low-cost, high-quality cannabis. Rubicon uses its own proprietary soil mix in combination with the most advanced hybrid greenhouse technology to achieve its goals.
By combining Rubicon’s advanced production systems with the award-winning genetics and brand recognition of the Cookies strains, the companies envision a Washington premium cannabis powerhouse. “The fact that Cookies – one of the top brands in California – has chosen Rubicon Organics to license its highly coveted cannabis strains is a testament to the strong commercial appeal of Rubicon’s unique cultivation methods,” said Jesse McConnell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Our proprietary cultivation methodologies will enable the fullest expression of Cookies’ cannabis genetics and we are looking forward to working alongside the Cookies team to spread their iconic brand across Washington State.”
Rubicon has an existing brand in the state, Doctor & Crook Co., as well as a California-based brand, 1964 Supply Co.. The company is planning to launch both the Cookies and the 1964 brands in Washington later this year.
Rubicon Organics is building a family of brands in the key markets of Washington and British Columbia. With organic products fetching significantly higher prices than non-organic, the company is looking to leverage its proprietary low-cost production techniques into a healthy bottom line based on premium products. The addition of a highly successful and high acclaimed brand only adds to the probability of achieving this goal. The company is in the final stages of the FVOPA organic certification process which would make it Canada’s fourth certified organic licensed producer. There is a lot going on with Rubicon Organics this year, and the Cookies brand could play a key role in unlocking the company’s market potential.
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