BY KIMBERLY TRUONG
In 2014, Adam Grossman was shuffling back and forth between New York City, where he was working in investment, and Boston, where he was caring for his parents. His mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and his father had developed stenosis, a back condition that left him bedridden. “My dad got put on hospice. We called in a pain specialist, and they said that if he didn’t get out of bed in the next week he probably wouldn’t make it,” Grossman recalls.
After none of the traditional pain medications worked, Grossman talked to a friend in California, who suggested he go online and look into formulas for a cannabis pain relief balm she had seen. “I went online and researched formulas, called up a high school buddy of mine and got $500 of the best weed you could find, borrowed a crock pot from a neighbor, and got ingredients from Whole Foods,” he says. “The next day I mixed up a batch and put it on my dad’s back, and I could get him out of bed.”
Seeing his dad’s positive response to the effects of cannabis was so inspiring, Grossman began experimenting further, making more batches and getting feedback from family and friends, eventually looking more into the topical aspect of the cannabis industry. When he and chief product officer Guy Rocourt launched Papa & Barkley in June 2016, he did so with his father as the inspiration for the company’s flagship pain balm product — and for half the name.
As for the other half? Joining Grossman as he pivoted between New York and Boston was a pit bull named Barkley, a foster dog who came courtesy of Grossman’s friend.
“Barkley just got attached to my dad and didn’t want to leave him, so he became my dad’s dog, and he slept in the bed under the covers with him every night — it was pretty awesome for a 90-year-old man to have a 75-pound dog down along his legs to keep him warm,” he says. “The whole experience became about papa and Barkley, so that’s where the name comes from.”
Two and a half years after launching, Papa & Barkley is operating its headquarters out of Los Angeles, with manufacturing in Eureka and distribution out of Sacramento. At every step of the way, the company has a powerful focus on the purest, highest quality product possible, Grossman explains. “Our brand identity is based around full plants and solvent-free extraction,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s about the quality of the plant, and our processes for extracting cannabinoids are about doing so in the purest way possible without using any chemicals.”
Grossman says the company’s best-selling products remain the Relief Balms, as well as the Releaf Tinctures, both of which are also available in CBD-rich formulas. He credits the success of those particular items to the broader exposure people have to CBD currently. In fact, they’ve done so well that Papa & Barkley has started a line of CBD-only products based out of Colorado, called Papa & Barkley Essentials.
“Part of the goal is to be able to provide these products for people nationally,” he says. “Safe access has not been granted yet, but we can still provide wonderful CBD-based products that comply with national regulations and sell them online.” Moving forward, Grossman hopes to add balms to the Papa & Barkley Essentials line, as well as skincare products, and other face and body lotions.
At the end of the day, he just hopes that people can use his products and have truly restorative, healing outcomes. “I hope people can heal and have a life-changing experience,” he says of the ultimate goal. “Not everyone’s going to have that, but maybe people have. When they look at who we are and where we came from, I hope they really connect with us as a company. We’ve grown around this mission and passion to try to be thoughtful with the products we’re providing.”