When Winterlife Cannabis decided to ends its recreational marijuana delivery service last summer the coop was sorely missed by its thousand plus customers. However, Winterlife has been reborn as a recreational processor, and its first batch of concentrated cannabis extracts and edibles began arriving in recreational stores over the last couple of weeks. We spoke with Evan Cox about the transition from running a delivery service to becoming a processor, their experiences operating under the recreational marijuana bureaucracy, and what Winterlife has planned for the future.
For those who are not familiar with the former delivery service and to give a more in-depth recap: Winterlife was originally a wildly popular recreational marijuana delivery operation that received national media attention for the service it was providing. The delivery service operated in the legal gray area that existed after recreational marijuana was legalized, but before there were any legal retail stores open where adults could purchase pot.
Winterlife created what they described as a ‘legally defensible strategy of distribution’ by only selling to adults who would legally be allowed to be in possession of recreational pot, and quickly gained a reputation for their quick delivery of high quality product. In addition, their drivers, all of whom assumed animal based pseudonyms like Badger or Wombat, were known for their professionalism, and the operation grew rapidly, employing over 60 people towards the end and turning a tidy profit for Winterlife.
We asked Evan about how the process of transitioning from a delivery service to a processor has been, and he told us that while Winterlife was already experienced with packaging ready to consume cannabis products and was able to transition into the day-to-day work of processing products, it was not an simple process.“It was extremely difficult. Unlike many of the delivery companies that popped up in the wake of Winterlife’s success we had always planned on transitioning into the legal market. This meant that once stores started opening up, our ‘job’ of filling a void where the state hadn’t provided any safe access to legal cannabis to adult citizens had effectively ended.“
Evan also pointed out the heavily reduced profit margins that resulted from the transition, which were compounded by the current regulations and taxes that are levied against recreational marijuana processors and retail stores. He candidly explained “The individuals working at the Liquor Control Board are trying as hard as they can but Washington State has set them up for many more failures to come. The licensing system strings licensees along from one requirement to the next and the people prior and aft have no clue what this one does and so on. Much of the information you’d require to anticipate your operations isn’t disseminated until you already need to know. It’s a real mess right now.”
While Winterlife is experiencing more than its fair share of its frustration as it makes the transition to becoming a fully legal processor, Evan remains optimistic for the future of recreational cannabis. He ended our conversation on a positive note, stating “I think that those of us who can weather the storm of initial bureaucracy will do well from and for the future of this industry with the potential for some of us to do extremely well, but there is definitely a lot of hard work for narrow margins ahead. Right now it is very much a numbers game.”
Winterlife currently has three vegan friendly cookie varieties, honey oils and pre-rolled cones available at local recreational stores. Evan also told us about all the excellent sounding products Winterlife has planned for the future, such as infused nuts and chocolate raspberries and possibly peanut butter pretzels. In addition, they are hard at work developing a new infused beverage and will release a new exclusive ethanol extracted shatter, a stable concentrate that can be smoked or vaporized.
UPDATE: You can find Winterlife Cannabis products in Seattle marijuana stores.