Like many cannabis startup companies, Papa & Barkley began as a healing venture. Adam Grossman infused cannabis with coconut oil in his kitchen and created a balm to help alleviate his father‘s (Papa) debilitating pain. Thanks in some part to this natural concoction that became the genesis for their Releaf balm, Grossman’s father eventually began walking again. He left hospice care and went on to live for another two years.
Barkley is the name of their family dog. This loyal pit bull may have been Grossman’s dog officially but it chose his father. According to Tiana Arriaga, director of cannabis procurement for Papa & Barkley, adding Barkley to the company’s name symbolized the unconditional love and support they hope to capture in the products they make. “Papa & Barkely is a legacy to one’s father while also unlocking cannabis to as many people as possible to relieve pain.”
In addition to their signature balm, their Releaf line includes THC and CBD body oils, soaks, tinctures, capsules, and patches while their Essentials line features hemp-derived CBD balm, capsules, and drops. For those who prefer smokable products, their Papa Select Line offers six star hash or live rosin made via ice extraction using fresh frozen plants.
None of their products contain solvents, and they were one of the first companies in Eureka to obtain a solventess license. In addition to whole plant cannabis, their products are made with natural beeswax, natural essential oil blends, and coconut or MCT oil.
They work with hundreds of licensed farms in Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties, an area that’s part of the Emerald Triangle. This region is called “the Napa Valley of cannabis” due to long history producing world class flower. So they can spread the wealth and support all farmers, they do not have minimums. This philosophy enables them to procure world class cannabis while supporting the local community.
Like other products available for sale in California’s regulated market, their products labels feature a batch ID and a lot number along with a corresponding CoA. According to Arriaga, by the time the consumer gets their product, they have been tested multiple times. “We run our tests of any cannabis product before we use it. Then we send it to the lab for testing.”
Since launching the company in 2016 with only a handful of employees, Papa & Barkley has experienced dramatic growth. Currently, they are second largest employer in Eureka with 75 employees working in Eureka and 150 employees scattered throughout California.
Arriaga attributes this growth to the fact that they put out products that work and have a company culture that is fiercely transparent. “Our culture is driven by an intense passion for unlocking the potential of cannabis for every person who comes in contact with us.” In her estimation, their company’s culture strives to be the best in class in terms of education and science, quality control, and rigor in putting out the best products they can for people.
In December 2018, MJ Retailer named Papa & Barkley one of the 50 best companies to work for in cannabis. Employees start way over the minimum wage with great pay increases and a company-matched 401k program. All hands meetings every month gather all employees together for a giant conference call, and an open door policy encourages everyone to offer their feedback.
Monthly company events and charity events are integral to company culture too. As one sign of their community involvement, they took over one of the largest buildings in Eureka that was a community blight and renovated it into a sustainable building replete with LED fixtures.
At present, Papa & Berkeley’s full line of products are in about 92 percent of California dispensaries with their CBD products available both online as well as in select stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. In Arrianga’s estimation, this inclusion points to the fact Saks is featuring quality CBD products and not just focusing on selling the most expensive CBD offerings. “Our products are not as expensive as other products. And we also have more THC and CBD cannabinoids per milligram than many other companies.”
As cannabis legalization spreads across the country, Arriaga hopes for a full blown Papa & Barkely experience available in all 50 states. “This accomplishment would not be just for us but to help all the family farms in this area.”