Venice Cookie Company’s Founder Kenny Morrison Shares His Cannabis Journey
Cannabis Edibles and Drink Review had the pleasure of speaking with Venice Cookie Company (VCC) Founder Kenny Morrison.
CEDR: How / where did your early sales occur and what was the feedback?
Kenny: Our very first sales were a batch of cookies before we had even printed branded labels. It was at a store in Venice Beach in 2008, and I’m still friends with that original owner to this day. The location is now a MedMen store. The feedback was, “how soon can you get us more, and what else do you have?”
CEDR: How are your cookies different today (from the original) in terms of ingredients and the method by which THC is introduced?
Kenny: The cookies are much less potent now. In 2009 our bestseller was a small 60mg THC treat called the Cookiebrownie. We tried doing something nobody else on the market was doing–we offered a revolutionary low dose version at 1/10th of the potency (6mgTHC) and it was a miserable failure–nobody wanted them at all. Other than that, the difference is the cookies are made with some light automation today and the cannabis oil no longer contains any chlorophyll. I think we switched to co2 oil in 2011.
CEDR: Was there an “aha” moment when you realized you’d have a career in cannabis?
Kenny: I think that was 2006 when I walked into a dispensary in West Hollywood known as THE FARMACY and befriended the owners. The location was ahead of its time. Coincidentally or perhaps not, that store today is also a MedMen store.
CEDR: You mention that two of the original dispensaries you interacted with are now MedMen. How have the more corporate stores changed the buying experience for consumers?
Kenny: There were a few beautiful stores back then, but they were very hard to come by. They were definitely the exception compared to today, where a pristine presentation is the rule. Over time as brands establish themselves more, the “Apple Store” notion of a dispensary will probably diminish a bit. A bottle of Grey Goose is still Grey Goose, regardless of what the liquor store that sells it looks like.
CEDR: What can you share in terms of how consumer preferences (taste / form factor / dosage) have evolved?
Kenny: In terms of form factor, it’s a continuum, but the starkest general difference is the growing importance of companion ingredients, both cannabis and non-cannabis; First, cannabis has proven to be a gateway herb rather a gateway drug, meaning that the inclusion of plant-based supplements that complement cannabis are more important than ever. Next, expanded research into the entourage effect will increase the relevance of cannabis-based molecules and compounds for decades to come.
CEDR: What award are you most proud of?
Kenny: Personally, awards based on our social mission and intent far outweigh the value of any awards we’ve received for our products. We’ve received a few in both categories, and this might sound insincere, but I don’t keep track of them. A short memory may be part of what’s helped me survive in cannabis for so long. I don’t hold grudges and I try not to live in the past. It’s not always easy though.
CEDR: What’s a recent Social Mission accomplishment?
Kenny: We had a big influence on helping the City of Oakland settle on its “equity incubator” model that they finally settled on. VCC proposed a “1 to 1 mentorship model” where an existing business would help an equity business get off the ground, and that mentor business would receive the corresponding license for its own use. The concept was sounder than some of the other ideas they were proposing. Equity in cannabis still doesn’t go nearly as far as it needs to. There’s nothing equitable about the fees and tax rates anyone is subjected to in California. Regardless, we helped incubate the most successful equity entrepreneur there has been in the entire Bay Area. I don’t take a lot of credit for it but I’m proud to have been able to help.
CEDR: Do you have a national growth strategy as laws allow?
Kenny: We are growing nationally and internationally via IP licensing deals. California is the most important market though.
CEDR: Any new products on the horizon?
Kenny: We’ve developed a powdered beverage for our Cannabis Quencher line that’s made of actual juice powder. We’ll be launching it in Florida since RTD beverages are not permitted there. We have other items coming very soon in California, but I can’t share yet.
CEDR: Which dispensaries in Florida will be carrying Cannabis Quencher and when will it be available?
Kenny: Liberty Health Sciences. Early this year.
CEDR: Thanks Kenny for sharing your story and perspective!