Cookies, a cannabis store on the southwest corner of Melrose Avenue and Kings Road owned by a prominent hip hopper and a destination for Black customers, has drawn criticism from residents nearby, including those on either side of Melrose Avenue within West Hollywood.
In complaints to the Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Station, to L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz and West Hollywood Councilmember Lauren Meister, residents have said the Cookies customers illegally park on Kings Road, where parking is reserved for residents, and make a lot of noise, with radios blasting and people shouting and laughing. They also have complained about customers of Cookies urinating and vomiting and throwing trash in their yards. They also have complained that some Cookie’s customers and security guards aren’t wearing the mandated face coverings.
“These people are Urinating all over our Homes Apts Tree’s Cars Everywhere,” said Susan Kraut in a post on the West Hollywood Tri-West section of Nextdoor.com. “aside from being Disgusting it’s a Major Health Hazard for All of Us Our Families and Friends. Trash is being thrown all over the streets. Some of these people have Records and Weapons. They are in groups in the streets smoking marijuana.”
Cookies was founded in 2012 by hip hop artist Berner (aka Gilbert Milam Jr.) and his partner Jai “Jigga” Chang, a Bay Area cannabis cultivator and breeder. The two cultivated and marketed new brands of cannabis and also created a streetwear company under the Cookies brand. It sells apparel and accessories products for both men and women as well smoking supplies. The Melrose store and one on Maywood in Los Angeles are the brand’s flagship stores. There are many more across the United States.
Both the LAPD and the Sheriff’s Department and Koretz’s office and West Hollywood City Councilmember Lauren Meister have responded to the complaints. Cookies has changed its operating hours, which originally were from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Now it is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Cookie’s manager, who goes by the name of Z, told WEHOville that he has engaged a crew to clean litter off nearby streets for three to four blocks north and south of Melrose. Cookies also has increased the size of its security staff. Z said security staffers actively discourage people from parking on residential streets, instead steering them to Cookies’ parking lot and to space on Melrose Avenue. Cookies also has agreed to urge customers to order online for curbside pickups, which would reduce the number of customers coming into the store.
The City of West Hollywood has taken other steps to keep Cookies’ customers from parking on its streets. One of those is temporarily extending to 24 hours the period during which people must have a city permit to park as of Aug. 17 on the 500 block of Kings Road and on the 8300 block of Clinton Avenue and as of Aug. 20 on the 500-600 block of Orlando Avenue south of Melrose. The city also is said to be considering installing speed bumps on Kings Road.
Most of those who commented on Kraut’s post on Nextdoor, known for hosting inflammatory allegations, agreed with her. However, several questioned whether the complaints were inspired by racism. “this sounds like a race thing,” said Christopher Sullivan on Nextdoor. Someone else in the area, who asked not to be identified by name, said he also thought the complaints had a racist tinge.
“As most of the businesses in the area mentioned above are currently closed, I immediately knew this was a response to Cookies, the cannabis retailer on Melrose and Kings that has attracted a large and noticeably Black customer base in recent months,” he said in an email to WEHOville. ‘Since the opening of the store, I have welcomed the increase in Black customers in the area. However, I have also noticed a major increase in police presence surrounding the shop.”
“…the concept of ‘No parking any time except for permitted 11R residents,’ in a sense, is a thinly veiled racist attack on a business and its customer base––a way of saying “If you don’t immediately live here, you don’t belong.”