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Cookies and Akanda: bringing premium cannabis genetics to Europe

Home » Cookies and Akanda: bringing premium cannabis genetics to Europe

Cookies has spent the last 12 years building one of the most iconic brands in the cannabis industry. The company – founded by rapper Berner and cannabis breeder and cultivator Jai – is now teaming up with Akanda to see its products reach consumers in Europe as it continues on its global expansion.

Cookies has built its reputation on premium cannabis genetics – creating world-renowned strains such as Runtz and Girl Scout Cookies. 

As part of its global expansion, the brand is now extending its reach into the European cannabis market, which is expected to reach €1.5bn (~£1.33bn) by 2026 according to Prohibition Partners’ European Cannabis Report.

Read more: Cookies and InterCure expand into UK and Austria

International medical cannabis company, Akanda, has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Cookies to bring the brands’ cannabis genetics and non-cannabis merchandise to the continent. 

Akanda CEO, Tej Virk, spoke to Cannabis Wealth, about the collaboration.

Cookies in Europe

Cookies’ global expansion has seen the company cement its presence in markets such as Israel and Thailand. Akanda wanted to help build on this, said Virk, who highlights that, for consumers and patients in Europe, Cookies’ European debut raises the bar for the quality of products that are available. 

Virk said: “There is a huge brand awareness of Cookies in international markets. So, there is a cachet associated with what Cookies has been able to build in California. Akanda is very well positioned to deliver the brand promise, which is having that quality and product innovation that Cookies is so well known for.

“When we talk about flower for inhalation markets, I think we’ve seen Europe and other international markets being on the back foot compared to the United States and Canada.

“We’re bridging that gap by being able to access Cookies’ innovative strains. This is something we just haven’t seen before for high THC cannabis flower in Europe.

“I think there probably is some product out there which is paraded as being from California, whether that is or isn’t the case. Akanda is going to actually have a true stamp of quality and brand recognition on our products.

“Hopefully we can bring that to patients as soon as possible and give them choice.”

Under the agreement, Akanda will be operating Cookies branded pharmacy outlets in Portugal where it will be selling non-cannabis merchandise alongside cannabis products.

Virk says Akanda’s operations in Portugal, including its indoor premium grow in Sintra and its outdoor and greenhouse grow in Aljustrel, position the company well to be a domestic supplier within the country.

Virk commented: “Our agreement with Cookies allows for us to start branded pharmacies which would be intended to dispense Cookies products. That’s what we’re actively investigating. 

“There’s some regulatory work to be done but what it could mean is a pharmacy with Cookies branding at the entrance following all of the medical cannabis regulations, being able to take prescriptions and fulfil with cookies product.

“That is a something that puts us on the path to having a retail-oriented focus which brings us closer to the patient and closer to what is really required to best serve the market.” 

Virk, who highlighted the developments around cannabis regulation in Portugal, where adult-use legislation has been tabled, and in Germany, which is currently in discussions over the implementation of its expected adult-use legislation, stated the agreement sets the stage for Akanda to enter recreational markets with premium products.

“With Akanda having a foot in the door with a brand which is associated with adult use and recreational, we can build up a presence in legal regulated markets,” said Virk. 

“We know that the medical market is a regulated market right now in Europe and we’re leading that through our assets in Portugal. With indoor premium quality cannabis, there’s a lot of scarcity when it comes to accessing that kind of product.”

Virk highlights Akanda currently has a presence in regulatory discussions in Europe, interacting with different stakeholders and most recently attending a high-profile medical cannabis conference in Portugal. 

“These are the kinds of venues where we can engage stakeholders in Germany,” said Virk. “There’s various conferences as well, so that’s how we’re staying present – we’re in the conversation and have our ear close to the ground in terms of what is actually happening.”

The company is also a member of the EU Medical Cannabis Association (EU MCA) in order to stay engaged in the European market and to have a voice in shaping things, said Virk.

He added: “The agreement with Cookies is about creating a differentiated product value proposition in this medical market where we have high quality, innovative products – with quality measured by THC levels, the terpenes, the aesthetics. These are all the things that patients are really seeking in this type of medical product.

“Cookies is incredibly supportive and excited about this,” he continued. “Seeing their brand go global is something that is of real importance. Being present with us in Portugal is helping them fulfill their plan for global expansion. 

“Cookies is paying attention to what Portugal has delivered in the past. Portugal decriminalised drugs back in the early 2000s and this is something that Cookies is showing solidarity with. 

“In the United States there’s still imprisonment of people who were involved in the cannabis trade and I think this is about continuing on that progressive path to opening the market.”

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