Jonny Ive crafted the new iPhone. Stan Winston built The Terminator. Who made the hit medical cannabis strain Girl Scout Cookies?
The question has brought me here, to the foggy, wind-swept corner of Geary St. and California Highway 1 in San Francisco. Across Geary, a low-slug, rasta-colored commercial building gathers dust and soot. The address confirms it’s the The Hemp Center—a long-permitted legal medical cannabis dispensary in the city and the alleged epicenter of Cookies. After weeks of online sleuthing and unreturned phone calls, there is only one thing left to do—head inside.
As the number of Cookies fans skyrockets this year, watchers say we may be witnessing medical cannabis’s first explosively trendy strain. Reports indicate batches of the potent, indica-dominant hybrid have wholesaled for $5,000, or double average prices.
But Girl Scout Cookies’ popularity is matched by the mystery surrounding its origins.
Cannabis-obsessed San Francisco gangsta rapper Berner is widely credited with popularizing GSC over the last couple years. Allegedly a mix of OG Kush, Cherry Pie, and Durban Poison, critics have noted Cookies’ distinctive, complex, scrumptious aroma. Hints of vanilla and mint mix with a hashy funk that sort of smells like a baked cookie, but more like the cardboard box it came in. Either way—it’ll stink up a room. Cookies’ smoke is equally complex and its indica-dominant effects are as strong and long as they come.
Yet there’s more to the story. According to Bay Area experts familiar with Cookies’ makers, as well as some online sleuthing, Berner is but the marketing arm of a group of active Bay Area growers who go by online handles including “Pie Guy,” “Flux,” and “Jigga415.”
Cannabis growing remains a federal crime, and growers are amongst the most secretive members of the industry. But they’re also very proud of their creations.
Our Bay Area cannabis expert, whose identity we’re withholding because it would jeopardize their access, met Pie Guy and sampled his hit strain. Our source said Pie Guy originally released Girl Scout Cookies a few years ago. “He didn’t release it to clubs or clones of it. He gave out handfuls of nugs to friends and family and kind of let the taste speak for itself and let the hype build,” our expert said.
“The Cookies Fam” uses the photo-sharing service Instagram, and according to their public chatter, Cookies is actually a cross of two exotic strains with roots reaching back to Afghanistan and South Africa.
“#COOKIEFAM #KUSH is originally brought from FLORIDA to FRISCO around 1993-1994 right around the same time I got my first pager,” writes Jigga415—“the creator of #GIRLSCOUTCOOKIES” in a post in June.
The crew crossed a Northern California phenotype of Durban Poison—a sativa from South Africa—with their kush from Jacksonville, FL and started selecting.
“The F1 Durban is what I’m comfortable saying is in it and from there I’ve never really pinned it down,” our source states.
Many growers establish their brands by word of mouth. What was different was the Cookies’ marketing.
Berner is a hood rapper with a half-dozen Billboard Top 100 albums. A confirmed friend of the Cookies growers, Berner catapulted the strain into the mainstream by regularly name-checking the strain alongside Chris Brown and Wiz Khalifa in tracks like “Yoko.” Berner just released an album with San Quinn called—what else—Cookies & Cream.
“I think the celebrity start was a big push,” our insider comments. “And it kind of speaks to the fact that cannabis is being made to be glamorous and a celebrity thing. It doesn’t have to limit its publicity to the streets.”
The Fake Out
Like a Louis Vuitton bag, or a pair of expensive Nikes, celebrity name-checking combined with four Cannabis Cup awards in the past twelve months has turned 2013 into the year of the Cookies. The Cookies Fam writes that they’ve never released seeds or clones of the strain, but bag-seed have led to numerous knock-offs and spin-offs. “Like anything celebrities are pushing, the knock-offs pop up real fast,” our source states. According to the Cookies Fam-related accounts, official Cookies seeds may come out this Fall. And the crew has moved past GSC into strains like Snowman, Pink Panties, Sunset Sherbert, and The Y. “The Sherbert is fantastic,” our source states. “And I’m not a great flavor profiler at all but I can always tell when it’s The Y. It’s very spicy and I like it.”