City Manager Paul Arevalo Asks Los Angeles to Revoke Cookies’ Cannabis License

Cookies at 8360 Melrose Ave.

The City of West Hollywood is officially requesting that the City of Los Angeles revoke the temporary operating license it has granted to the Cookies Cannabis Dispensary on Melrose Avenue and deny Cookies a permanent license.

It a letter to LA Deputy City Attorney Taylor Wagniere, West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo cites complaints from West Hollywood residents who live near the store, which is located outside the City of West Hollywood. The store is within the L.A. City Council’s 5th District, which is represented by Paul Koretz, who also has expressed concerns about Cookies.

Noting that West Hollywood is devoting significant resources to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arevalo wrote “In a time of a global health pandemic where city resources are strained and residents are urged to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is unacceptable that one business should be permitted to cause such disruptions and havoc to the city and its residents at home on a near daily basis.”

Arevalo said that customers of Cookies have ignored parking regulations in adjacent residential areas within West Hollywood, have been seen jaywalking into traffic and speeding down residential streets. He also noted that residents have complained of public consumption of alcohol and cannabis and urinating in public and have said some Cookies’ customers have threatened residents if they report those violations.

“The armed (but lax) business security create more fear in the residents than a sense of protection, and the security has been seen engaging in questionable and disruptive behavior with the customers,” Arevalo says in his letter. “Additionally, residents frequently report that customers and employees of the business do not wear masks or engage in social distancing, despite the ongoing health orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Arevalo said the city has increased deputy patrols in the area and cited an incident on Sept. 11 where Sheriff’s deputies responded to gun shots in front of the RtA Melrose clothing store at 8600 Melrose Ave. and found a Cookies shopping bag in the car of one of those arrested in the shooting incident. Three Black men were arrested in that incident.

“There is a direct correlation to the business in that these impacts did not exist before the business opened and have continued uninterrupted since the business has been in operation,” Arevalo said. “We have been good neighbors and partners on many issues, and our city council and residents expect the same respect for our local residents in return.”

Cookies was founded in 2012 by hip hop artistBerner (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.

Cookies has attracted a lot of Black customers who stand out in and near a city like West Hollywood, where only 4% of the population is Black. The controversy over Cookies has sparked another conversation about racism in West Hollywood. Several of those who commented on WEHOville’s story about the incident in front of RtA, which included a photo of a Black man being arrested, made overtly racist statements.

“It is due to Cookies and all that trash that goes there,” said one commenter. “Due to the BLM marches and local morons who walked with them. This has shown those people how nice our neighborhood is so now they want to hang out here. If this continues this place will end up like Compton.” Compton is a working-class city south of downtown Los Angeles that is known for its large Black and Latin populations and a high rate of violent crime.

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PeteP
PeteP
4 months ago

Do not expect the City of L.A. or Koretz’s office to do anything here. They are incapable of addressing problems in any meaningful way.

James
James
5 months ago

Just want to add I moved off west knoll this year to just over the line of Doheny in Beverly Hills. My daughter and I thought this place was just another cake shop a place like sweet lady Jane that is til a guy smoking a blunt (I’m assuming) jaywalked right into traffic and I had to slam on my brakes. I usually only travel that direction and take melrose when I must have my los tacos. This happens more often than it should, but the an ex weho resident and neighbor to that area I feel bad for you… Read more »

James
James
5 months ago

I can’t help but to think about the neighbors here. They are frustrated as is any noisy activity going outside your home your place of peace. Look, living in West Hollywood you get pretty tolerant of noise and nuisance and that’s why I truly believe if the residents are saying it’s a problem it’s a problem. At the end of the Day you can stereotype anyone. When you disrupt peoples peace, their home, their safe place whoever it might be doing that, that’s who the anger is directed at.

gdaddy
gdaddy
5 months ago

Hopefully they are successful getting them kicked out. One of my friends lived right there and always talked about the problems this place caused. A look at their Yelp reviews and you’ll see many stories from other neighbors also. And no, it isn’t a race thing, it is simply a crime issue.

chloe ross
chloe ross
5 months ago

Lots more than casual bigots out there. The aim of Cookies is to make money. But don’t ask me, What do I know. An articulate and highly educated NIMBY bigot is quoted as saying: ““It is due to Cookies and all that trash that goes there,” said one commenter. “Due to the BLM marches and local morons who walked with them. This has shown those people how nice our neighborhood is so now they want to hang out here. If this continues this place will end up like Compton.” I suggest smoking weed is NOT his problem. Compton is a… Read more »

Ruby
Ruby
5 months ago
Reply to  chloe ross

Think about this: We all know that when we see many negative reviews of a product there will also always be one or two overly-exaggeratedly positive reviews right below. It’s very obvious that the few positive ones are usually “planted” fake reviews. They are no doubt, planted by the company that wants the negative reviews to somehow be canceled out. Yes, we also know that racism does indeed exist, but we have all seen many fake plants here and everywhere in regards to Cookies too. No doubt the plants are put out there by the owner of Cookies. For what… Read more »

Duran Bodasing
Duran Bodasing
5 months ago

This brand has always been skewed way too young IMHO – nothing lasts forever – you have to EVOLVE with the times and your aging clientele.

Last edited 5 months ago by Duran Bodasing
chloe ross
chloe ross
5 months ago
Reply to  Duran Bodasing

“Aging clientele”. Exactly what does that mean?

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
5 months ago

“Systemic” racism is against the law, so if it rears its ugly head just report it to the authorities and it will be taken care of. There will always be those who don’t like certain people for an immutable characteristic and it’s wrong, but it’s not likely to change. There are few enough of them it’s fairly easy to just move on without them. But if there is a problem being created most often by people who have any particular commonality it is not wrong to point that out. If red-haired Baptists were gathering regularly in an area where they… Read more »

David Wood
David Wood
5 months ago

3 words: drugs, guns and cash. Put them all together and there will be trouble. Even Cookies acknowledges they might have a problem by sending private security vehicles around the surrounding neighborhood. None of the residents signed up for that.

C P
C P
5 months ago
Reply to  David Wood

I do not condone what is happening at this location. I think it gives other cannabis retailers a bad name, who are operating compliantly. But I will say, as a person who represented clients in WeHo, the City requested that security patrol the “neighborhood” NOT just the front and back of the stores. So while the neighbors may not like the patrolling, in many cities where cannabis businesses are opening, the City actually requested it.

Kae
Kae
5 months ago

As a woman of color who worked a couple doors down from cookies, they ARE definitely causing an issue in that area. Although West Hollywood is inherently racist (Ed buck), cookies is NOT black owned & does not have an exclusively black clientele. people of all colors shop there – INCLUDING WHITES – & many seem to be unsavory characters who are drawn to the brand because they admire its proprietor who is known to be affiliated with a certain image & is OBVIOUSLY a gangster rapper. Stop making everything about black people, the obsession with trying to demonize us… Read more »

Ruby
Ruby
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

Thank you, Kae. Cookies and it’s owner know that this isn’t a race issue at all, but they like to pull the race card only as a phony crutch to try to stay open. This place is a menace to the surrounding neighborhood, the City of LA and West Hollywood as a whole and NEEDS to be closed down ASAP!

Kae
Kae
5 months ago
Reply to  Ruby

Anyone who says “the race card” as if racism is a “card” as opposed to a real systemic issue that affects people on a very regular basis – including myself – is suspect to me. You must be “color blind” & “the least racist person in the room”.

chloe ross
chloe ross
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

I call them “Casual Bigots”.

Ruby
Ruby
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

Using the word “race card” is not suspect at all. It was used, by definition which has nothing to do with real systemic race issues. I am certainly color blind and not racist at all! As is the entire Cookies issue. “Pulling the race card’s” definition describes what someone does when they use racial issues that don’t exist in relation to thier personal situation for thier own agenda (in Cookies’ situation, to be able to stay afloat and make more money only). Definition of Pull the race card: Playing the race card is an idiomatic phrase that refers to the… Read more »

Jimmy Palmieri
Jimmy Palmieri
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

THIS ^

Jay
Jay
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

Thank you Kae for sharing your boots on the ground perspective as a POC. The mishandling of Ed Buck’s repeated alleged murderous behavior will forever be a blot on the legacies of the LASD, the West Hollywood City Council at the time, and hopefully the very soon to be former L.A. County D.A Jackie Lacey. Bless Jasmyne Cannick and Marco Colantino in particular for shining their unrelenting and harsh lights on his serial misdeeds, and apologies to the families and friends of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean for our ‘leaders’ having enabled their untimely passings. And finally a thank you… Read more »

JF1
JF1
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

Your call should be to stop making it about race-period.

Kae
Kae
5 months ago
Reply to  JF1

Your call should be to make your own statement as opposed to trying to control what others think/say. Some things ARE about race such a the Compton comment.

chloe ross
chloe ross
5 months ago
Reply to  Kae

Casual Bigots – they are under every bush and and usually unmasked . I agree with your assessment of the situation. .

John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
5 months ago

This business is causing crime, period. That has nothing to do with race.

Ruby
Ruby
5 months ago

Yup! Excessive crime! There is no reason on earth that they should have a license to operate! And it has NOTHING to do with race! Crime is crime. That’s a fact!

JF1
JF1
5 months ago

Right. On.

chloe ross
chloe ross
5 months ago

Really?

Dave
Dave
5 months ago

Totally agree. Just take a look at Cookies at any given time and you can see how miserable it would be to live on that block or nearby. Awful people this place attracts. I do hope they get shut down.

Jay
Jay
5 months ago

Wow! Everybody just take a deep breath, under your mask, of hopefully weed-scent-free air (unless it’s your weed and your thing). Kudos to City Manager Paul Arevalo for acting on behalf of justifiably aggrieved residents such as commenter Ruby. Re Cookies and racism, the behaviors the neighbors describe are objectionable to illegal, period. Case closed and the store should be as well. Some of the comments in these forums, however, (but not from nearby neighbors as far as I can discern) are clearly racist. West Hollywood is the richer for Hank, a former New York Times employee, having chosen our… Read more »

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
5 months ago

Koretz is totally f***ing worthless. Glad we got his a** out of WeHo.

JF1
JF1
5 months ago
Reply to  WeHoMikey

Yup.

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