Love is in the air at West Eighth Avenue and Navajo Street. Take a whiff and you'll smell it.
Locol Love owners Josh and Trish Williams met in 2004 when Josh was starting out as a grower in Colorado's new medical marijuana caregiver program. Their pot partnership didn't start until much later, though, when the two decided to go recreational and open a cultivation.
"I come from a very traditionalist family where cannabis was bad. He had to convince me," Trish recalls. "Eighteen years and four kids later, here we are."
Where they are is a tricky but enviable situation. Locol Love is one of Colorado's more popular growers, and the brand also has a rising extraction label, but 2024 could be the most challenging year yet for cannabis business owners in Colorado as dispensary sales fall. But while working side by side with your significant other every day might sound tough during such challenging financial times, this couple wouldn't have it any other way.
"We get to share the wins, and we get to spend more time together," Josh says, recalling the early days of both medical and recreational marijuana, which came with "lots of sleepless nights, worrying about doors being broken down and losing our kids."
No doors were smashed in, though, and that stress and anxiety paid off soon after the two started Locol Love as a lone cultivation in Boulder and co-founded Leiffa, a Lakewood-based cannabis brand and dispensary, in 2015. Both brands saw early success and expansion, but the Williamses felt that Locol Love was taking a back seat to their Leiffa responsibilities, and some operational differences with Leiffa's current ownership led to the parties splitting in 2020.
Once the pair put all of their energy into Locol Love, the company began to bloom.
"We had to look at what makes us different. What makes us unique?" Josh recalls. "It totally reignited our passion with the team."
They doubled down on their Boulder grow and opened their Navajo Street cultivation that same year. Locol Love's first big star was the sweet, trichome-laden Colorado Cream Soda, with popular cuts of Cap'n Kush Berries, Super Lemon Chedda and Strawberries n' Dreams, among dozens of other well-grown strains. Josh handles the cultivation and genetic vision of Locol Love while Trish leads the marketing and business operations — a real "front of house, back of house" structure that's common at family restaurants, less so in cannabis.
That family atmosphere extends into the hash lab, where Josh's high school friend Mark "Lowkey" (no last name, please) creates batches of solventless forms of bubble, Lebanese and Moroccan hash as well as hash-infused flower and pre-rolls. A traveled student of the underground extraction world since the late ’90s, Lowkey is also working on rosin vape cartridges and piatella, a rare form of solventless hash that requires almost-flawless water hash as starting material, followed by months of carefully monitored curing. He's known for blessing new batches of hash from time to time and using the same phrase when sharing or selling cannabis.
"I call it spreading the love, and that's probably why I have a home here," Lowkey says.
"Well, that and you went to high school with me," Josh responds jokingly.
Slow to praise himself but proud of Lowkey's work and what Locol Love has become, Josh is described as a "mastermind" by Trish — though he sheepishly requests that not be shared.
"Josh is my best friend. It's so fun to be able to work with your best friend," she explains. "He's never lost that fire and passion for this."
Fire and passion are both being tested in Colorado's cannabis cultivation sector, which experienced record-low wholesale prices and a 21 percent reduction in growing licenses in 2023, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data. Seeing a notable or longtime cannabis brand shut down or leave the state for new markets is getting to be a common occurrence, but the Williamses see an opportunity that could help them outlast this pot recession. Currently operating two growing warehouses in Colorado, Locol Love is getting ready to move from its old Boulder grow into another Denver facility that will be bigger and newer than the last one.
"You think prices are starting to get better, but then more [growers] come online, they don't make it, there's a cannabis fire sale, and then we have to do this all over again. Seeing where we're at now, though, it gives me confidence that we're at a point of stability," Trish says.
The couple thinks that things are stable enough for Locol Love to plan a spring release of its reworked rosin vape cartridges and Lowkey's much-anticipated piatella. The Williamses would also like to open a Locol Love dispensary in Colorado one day, and maybe spread the Love into other states, too.
"We want to launch the piatella and rosin carts together," Trish says, then looks at Josh. After a short silence, they both say in near harmony: "But it has to be perfect."