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Hemp and Hound: Papa & Barkley, Inspired by Providing Personal Relief for a Parent, is All About Transparency and Quality

In Conversation With Co-founder Adam Grossman. Part II will feature Guy Rocourt, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer.

What is the Papa & Barkley origin story?
About five years ago I had moved back home to Boston from NYC to take care of my dad. He had become bedridden, then hospitalized, and ultimately put on hospice care due to spinal stenosis. I was desperate to find a solution and none of the prescribed pharmaceutical pain medications were working. I researched cannabis pain balms on the internet, called up a friend from high school, and bought $500 worth of the best cannabis I could find. I borrowed a crockpot from a neighbor, went to Whole Foods to buy the other ingredients, and cooked up my first ever batch of pain relief balm in my kitchen. The next day I applied it to my dad’s back and 20 minutes later I could get him out of bed! I kept applying it multiple times a day and caring for him and he got better! He was able to get off of hospice care and lived almost two more years. I started giving away samples of the balm to friends and family and getting amazing feedback. Throughout this whole time my dog Barkley, who became my dad’s dog, served as a source of constant comfort and support. He slept in the bed with my dad every night and was always next to him, providing warmth and comfort. It became my mission to make this pain relief solution available to more people, so I founded Papa & Barkley, named after my dad, Papa, and his dog, Barkley.

How does the culture at Papa & Barkley drive how you are working together during COVID?
We are a mission-based company – our mission is to unlock the power of cannabis to improve people’s lives. Our products are mostly medicinal in nature and tend to require a lot of education – particularly around dosage and the different ratios of cannabinoids in our tinctures. Since working from home we’ve come together to find innovative new ways to educate our consumers via our website, blog, YouTube channel, and social media channels. We’ve created programs, like our Well-Connected series, that enable our team members to offer cannabis and wellness guidance to our consumers virtually. We’ve brought our marketing and sales teams together in a new way to educate dispensaries and their budtenders on whole-plant cannabis medicine. And we’ve worked with our People & Culture team to plan internal educational lunch and learns where team members get to see our R&D team working on exciting new products. At Papa & Barkley we like to say we’re a family. Since we can’t be together physically, our teams now have daily virtual check-ins in the mornings and evenings to ensure we’re communicating clearly and giving updates. We genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other, so we also now have weekly themed happy hours, to provide us an opportunity to heal and laugh together during this stressful time. Last week our Friday happy hour featured a yoga class led by Tiana, one of our team members who teaches yoga in her free time. We also had a fun cannabis trivia themed happy hour, which I had the pleasure of judging.

Papa & Barkley is known for its super high-quality products. What is special about your farming practices?
We partner with some of the most experienced cannabis and HEMP farmers in the country to source our flower. Since we are in Humboldt County, we have access to the best biomass. Many of our farmers are from multi-generational family farms and have been perfecting their craft and strains for decades. All our farm partners grow using organic principles and regenerative practices, meaning they focus on pesticide-free and sustainable farming, improving the soil growing the cleanest cannabis. We have rigorous vetting standards and visit every farm we partner with in-person to make sure it meets our criteria. So our process starts with the cleanest, best cannabis. Not only is our cannabis the cleanest out there, our supporting ingredients are too. We source all our essential oils, coconut oil, and beeswax carefully and we test each of our products a minimum of 3 times. We test the input cannabis, then we test the infused oil once it’s blended with our supporting ingredients, and we test the final packaged product. We test for 66 pesticides, 5 microbial, and 10 residual solvents. Our testing and quality standards are best in class.

In the same vein, can you tell us about your extraction methods?
Papa & Barkley uses a proprietary solventless whole-plant infusion process that enables all the plant’s cannabinoids (CBD and THC and over 100 others) to be infused into our products without the use of chemicals, isolates, or distillates resulting in the cleanest and most natural products possible. The full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients passes from the flower into our base oils through this clean, natural process. We like to say that no cannabinoid is left behind! We believe in a phenomenon called the Entourage Effect, which suggests that the interaction of all these beneficial elements work together to maximize efficacy – in other words, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The scientific community is just discovering the benefit of many of these cannabinoids; it seems a new study comes out almost every week. We believe the plant has the most therapeutic potential when it’s kept intact. Our infusion process enables us to keep the full plant profile, so consumers get the most efficacious products possible.

Can you please talk about workout recovery and CBD?
We are science-based and have done multiple studies with athletes taking CBD and believe there is a clear benefit to recovery time and pain reduction for athletes. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps people with chronic conditions that cause systemic inflammation. Exercising, especially weight training, naturally creates muscle inflammation. CBD helps reduce that, which, in turn, helps relieve muscle soreness, so you can optimize your recovery and get back in the gym the next day (these days, as long as it is a home gym!).

Do you have any favorite at-home workouts you have found during quarantine?
I love to hike in Griffith Park with my dog, Cooper, or cycle at home with a new indoor bike I bought myself in honor of our new work-from-home lifestyle. Sometimes I multi-task and bike while I take meetings, which I’ve been really liking because it means my body can be just as active as my mind is during the workday. I also try and do a ton of squats, since you don’t need any equipment and can do them anywhere. I love using our CBD Releaf Balm after exercise to help me boost my recovery and relieve any soreness.

We recently started selling your Releaf Repair cream that is created via a rosin technique. Can you explain what that is?
Papa & Barkley’s new Releaf Repair Cream and Releaf Body Lotion are made using fresh-pressed CBD and THC rosin. CBD and THC molecules are concentrated in the cannabis flower in resin glands called trichomes. To make rosin we take fresh cannabis flower and tumble it in freezing temperatures, so those ripe trichomes separate from the rest of the flower. Then we take that powder, known as kief, and press it between heated kinematic plates to derive the rich, golden-colored wax, a sticky cannabis oil, known as rosin. That rosin is extremely clean, as it’s never been touched by chemicals, and super potent since it’s made with those cannabinoid-rich ripe trichomes. Rosin is especially great for your skin becomes it contains the whole plant, including chlorophyll, which is an antioxidant, and other plant fats that help soothe and protect the skin. CBD reduces inflammation, making our skincare products great for red, irritated, or puffy skin. To read more about rosin and our skincare products you can check out the “What Is Rosin” post on our blog.

Can you talk about the differences in effect between your Cannabis and CBD tinctures?
Papa & Barkley has two lines of product: a California-only cannabis line and a nationally available CBD line made with HEMP, or cannabis with less than .3% THC. Products in both lines are made using the same formulas, same whole plant infusions methods, and same clean ingredients. So the differences are minimal. The only real difference is that the national CBD line is limited to .3% THC in their formulations or a 30:1 ratio. The California line offers different ratios of CBD to THC in much higher concentrations of THC. Since all of our products are made using the whole plant, all our CBD products have THC in them – it’s just below the legal limit of .3%. As mentioned before, the plant works best when it’s kept intact with all its cannabinoids and plant materials.

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