Gilberto “Berner” Milam Jr. has created an empire.
After starting his (legal) cannabis career in the early 2000s as a Bay Area budtender, the rapper/entrepreneur noticed a lack of branding in the nascent industry. With little more than a strong vision, a love for the plant and an inhuman work ethic—he’s confessed to sleeping just four or five hours a night—Berner parlayed one powerful strain into Cookies, a global lifestyle brand with more than 20 dispensaries across the U.S. and Israel, a clothing line and a new digital content platform called Couch Locked Network (CLN).
CLN will launch on 4/20 with an inaugural comedy show, “Couch Locked.” The event touts a who’s-who of famous weed connoisseurs, from Bob Saget to Donnell Rawlings. The hybrid event consists of a live show with limited tickets on an outdoor terrace at a hotel in San Francisco. Viewers not attending in person can tune in via PPV livestream on Veeps.com.
Berner spoke to Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary about how the hybrid comedy show came about, increasing Black and brown ownership in the cannabis industry, and what it would take for him to sell Cookies.
Raj Chander: Give us some background on the genesis of “Couch Locked.” How did it come together? Who was involved?WikimediaBerner
Berner: I actually designed the logo about five years ago, I’ve been sitting on it for a while. I’ve always wanted to get into the comedy space. … Obviously, smoking bud, you know, it’s just part of what comes with it. You relax. But with COVID being COVID and not wanting to miss another 4/20 event, I thought it was the perfect time to bring a livestream, in-person, limited-ticket comedy show to the table. I wanted to laugh, man, and I feel like the world needed a laugh. We want to bring smiles to people’s faces. … This felt like a good time to implement something I’ve been sitting on.
RC: So, it sounds like you’ve had this idea for a while, even before all the COVID stuff happened, and you were just waiting for the right opportunity?
B: Yeah, I had to level up a little bit, man. I had to get the other businesses going, get the businesses to where I could take on another challenge. Because it’s actually a big challenge to jump into a new space like this and try to sell pay-per-view tickets to a live comedy event. But I think it’s going to be well received, and it’s much needed for sure.
RC: That’s interesting, because to me there’s been such a flood of virtual pop-ups, Zoom things, etc. It’s cool to hear you want to approach it a certain way and be thoughtful about it instead of just rushing into the virtual event space like a lot of others.
B: Well, yeah, if you think about it, I don’t want to watch someone rap. No disrespect to anyone doing streams like that, but for the last year, everyone’s been doing these virtual concerts. Man, you go to a concert to