“Handles of vodka are not childproof, but yet the smallest cannabis products are childproof. I think they should be both childproof.”
— Guy Rocourt
Papa & Barkley has established a niche as a provider of high-quality CBD- and THC-based products. Co-founder, President and Chief Product Officer Guy Rocourt has been a driving force in this emergence. While he has a hand in many aspects of the business, his greatest passion may be as an advocate for the plant. Listen to this episode for insights from Guy into how:
- Cannabis is personalized medicine, with pretty much zero downside compared to pharma.
- There’s so much misinformation due to the artificial separation of “hemp CBD” versus “cannabis CBD”
- All cannabis is about wellness. Papa & Barkley is not in the topicals category, or the edibles category or the tincture category. They are in the cannabis category.
- Before the late 1800s we actually had much more cannabis in our diet simply because as a weed, it was mixed into foodstuffs. It was available and used as medicine.
- Papa & Barley make solventless medicines as close to a whole plant thing as possible.
- Guy’s chance meeting with Montel Williams set him on the road to becoming a cannabis grower and entrepreneur.
- There’s a misconception around high-potency THC capsules being used for ‘recreation.’ Patients in many disease states need the pain relief that comes with high-dose THC.
- Policing is working as intended when it keeps marginalized communities in their place, and that’s why we need police reform.
Transcript of Podcast Episode with Guy Rocourt, President, Papa & Barkley
Kannaboom © 2021
Hey, welcome back to Kannaboom, it's Tom. If you're not yet familiar with Papa and Barkley, you will be. This California-based brand is growing up fast with an expanding product line that includes high-quality THC- and CBD-based balms, tinctures and edibles. CEO Guy Rocourt is our guest for this episode, he explains how they are scaling up what's essentially been an artisanal brand without sacrificing quality along the way. He has a lot of knowledge and a ton of passion about the healing power of cannabis. I really enjoyed this interview and I think you will too. If you like the podcast, please subscribe at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or your favorite podcast player. And please leave a review at Apple Podcasts so that other people can find the show. If you have feedback about the show or you want to suggest a guest or topic for a future episode, please drop me a line at Tom at Kannaboom with a K dot com, and here's my interview with Guy Rocourt. Cannabis is booming, and Kannaboom is on it. Welcome to the Kannaboom Podcast where we interview experts on the changing story of humans, health and hemp. From San Diego, here's your host, Tom Stacey. It's Tom, welcome back to the Kannaboom podcast. This week we have Guy Rocourt, who is co-founder President and Chief Product Officer at Papa and Barkley. Hey Guy, how are you?
Guy Rocourt 1:11
I'm good. I'm good. Thanks for having me. lots to talk about.
As we record we're wrapping up a big 4/20 week and I know you guys have a lot going on. You mentioned you had a new consumption lounge.
Guy Rocourt 1:21
Yeah, yeah, we're really honored to have the first consumption lounge here in the Humboldt area. One of the main reasons we were able to get our consumption lounge opened early is because it's mostly outdoors. There are a few slated in the area but they're indoor and so with COVID precautions and proximity Prop 65 precautions they haven't opened yet but we were lucky to open ours on 4/20. It was a soft opening.
Was it well received?
Guy Rocourt 1:45
Oh yeah. Yeah. So you know for us. We took over a box store in an old Kmart in Eureka. And you know, these box stores are all over the country because of the internet. They're not as popular as they used to be and who knows what would have happened but with the work of the city officials just getting the zoning right were able to purchase this thing a few years ago rehab it into a major manufacturing center that houses almost 100 people right now in terms of employees and will likely go north of 300 when it's fully built out. But the sun garden area we could have tried to, you know, rehab that and make it you know, clean enough to manufacture but it makes a much more beautiful dispensary area. We also added a spot in the back where you can get airport-like massages, infused massages, to be clear. And then the whole outdoor garden area we converted into a restaurant with our food truck Pick and Leaf and an outdoor consumption lounge with what we call canna cabanas that are you can reserve, sit, they have a fire pit you can hang out I think it'll be a place where business gets done in the Emerald Triangle because you know you go out to lunch for business all the time here you can come out to lunch, have a great meal, but also sharing your cannabis products. Talk to your clients about your cannabis products and present them at lunch like you would any other presentation in a typical business center. Yeah, we're really honored to be able to not only bring this big box store back to life, but also bring essentially what I think is going to be a community center. You know, that's the normalization of cannabis to us.
Yeah, well that sounds fantastic. And what a great time to do it on 4/20 and as we come out of the pandemic and boy, it almost sounds like you're ready for cannabis tourism that could become a destination for people.
Guy Rocourt 3:25
100% and you know it's funny I am encouraging everyone to keep it premium. We do have a new airline. I forget the name but there are these $100 plane flights from Burbank on this new airline and of course there's still you know, the United flights. But you know, I don't favor opening the 101 up. There's always talk about expanding that I think getting behind the Redwood Curtain is difficult. But once you're here, it's very magical. Yeah, but we are hoping for a lot of tourism. It has, it happens. The light that our dispensary activation is on is the first light for 100 miles on the 101 as you come north from Mendocino. So it is kind of the gateway to the Eureka - Arcata area. Yeah, and then I should also add that our partners at Social Nature have also purchased an old inn called the Scotia Inn, which was pretty historic during the redwood baron days and is now being converted and while I would never call it a bud and breakfast, it is geared towards normalizing cannabis. You can bring your family, you can feel comfortable just like any other rest, you know hotel, however there will be designated areas for consuming cannabis, the cannabis concierge will be able to take delivery from local dispensaries of your cannabis goods. Those kinds of things are definitely in the works for us.
Well, I look forward to getting up there. I have a brother who lives in Arcata and that's just a natural stop so...
Guy Rocourt 4:46
Sure, you know, hit me up, come visit.
So you said a couple times, "normalizing cannabis." So I love that notion. How do you think we're doing on that?
Guy Rocourt 4:54
You know, I'm, it's baby steps. I have a lot of patients. I've been in the cannabis game for over 20 years, and so I've seen legislation pop up and what got me into the game was, you know, 215 have been voted on. And you know, as a young person, I was like, 'Oh, well, people voted, then the legislators have to act.' Well, obviously, they don't have to act. They can do that in their own due time. So, you know, it's baby steps. I do have a little bit of patience, but it is happening. I do think that, you know, three, four years ago as we were emerging and more states were legalizing allowing national CBD products to be unregulated, allowed more misinformation to happen. So you have people still demonizing cannabinoid saying things like THC-free, you have an uptake of CBD isolate, which doesn't necessarily come from the right varietals, it comes from the fiber varietals which we should also be pushing to offset other issues that we have in the nation. I'm a big Jack Herer fan, I want to continue his work of food, clothing and medicine and that clothing and shelter part, that food part, we need more hemp products, more hemp manufacturing, more closed loop, you know, textile production, more hemp oil versus corn, ethanol, those kinds of things are real for the nation in addition to the medicine that you know cannabis provides and so, you know, I think that we could have done a little bit better by regulating you know, CBD just like we regulate all the other cannabinoids similar to what they do in Canada and stop the misinformation. And now three years later, we're still undoing more misinformation due to this artificial separation of quote hemp CBD versus cannabis CBD or, you know, I dare say marijuana based CBD.
Right. I mean, there's still so much education to be done and talked about a lot on this show, the 100 years of prohibition where there was intentional misinformation and now the pendulum is swung. And as you noted, there's a lot of misinformation around hemp and cannabis and people not being scrupulous about the claims that they make and all that hats off to you guys for taking a leadership position in that and you know, I followed your brand. For years, I gave some of the tincture to my dad who had prostate cancer, it can be excruciating. He never complained about the pain. He did pretty well with it. I want to thank you for that. At that time. I think you guys just had tinctures and now you've expanded the brand quite a bit.
Guy Rocourt 7:12
Yeah, you know, so it's funny we have, you know, it takes money to make money. So we've raised money and I love our initial friends and family round. They all jumped on board in 20, early 2016 before even Proposition 64 was on the ballot, so they knew and we were committed to the wellness factor of the plant. I think things are starting to professionalize. People want to pigeonhole us, they want to make us like alcohol makes us like this. But cannabis is going to be something different. And what I've come to realize is that all cannabis is wellness. And when we talk to these high end strategy companies, they're like, Well, you know, you're in this category in your topicals. I'm like, No, no, no, I'm in cannabis. That's the category. And I'm going to provide different modalities or ways of titrating ways of accessing the plant. That's probably the better way early on. I wasn't I didn't jump on the need-state game. But now I realized that for the layman, and consumers, they want, especially with COVID, unaided packaging, they want to see what it's going to do right on the package, we need to be a little bit better at communicating right on pack or in a small blurb. What these products do, we as a company relied on the bud tenders a lot to communicate that message. And of course, during COVID we were like, 'Oh, wait.' So we are leaning a little bit more into need state. And our sleep suite that we're launching in the next few months is an example of that. It's a sleep suite of products. We're Papa and Barkley, but it's a gummy. It's a chocolate, it's a tincture, it's a capsule, so it's these different modalities for you to access what you need. So I'd like to encourage people to stop thinking of cannabis. First of all, let's just dispel the term recreation altogether, right? Because again, it's forcing this separation of like, oh well CBD and this other stuff is wellness or medicinal and then everything else is recreational, that's not true. I really believe all cannabis is at the end of the day wellness because unlike alcohol, we're not going to get blackout drunk. We're taking this thing to take the edge off at the very least if not cure fundamental issues.
That's a very interesting distinction. I mean, I've heard you know Tommy Chong say all cannabis is medicinal but medicinal when you talk about need state that's a human constant we all need things right so that's a good positioning I think and wellness I totally agree. That's what people are interested in.
Guy Rocourt 9:18
Yeah for us you know, we aren't, we, pain management was our initial bailiwick right? Our relief balm, the origin story with Adam helping his dad get out of hospice, that it creates small miracles for people we at Papa and Barkley like to say we own the first cannabis conversation because no matter how ardent a denier, you are of cannabis, when we put the balm on you, it's non intoxicating. It works all of a sudden your joints feel better. And now you're thinking okay, well, let me try a tincture and you know, especially in the desert with the older folks, they call it the Papa and Barclay funnel, where they start with the balm. Then they do the CBD tincture, before you know it they're taking CBD caps regularly. Then they're taking a 1:3 tincture and starting to leave their other pain management meds behind and now they have a great, clean tox-free life with zero side effects typically associated with some of their medicines. This year we decided to go specifically after sleep, another big indication that a lot of folks have issues with good sleep as a cornerstone of health. You know, we introduced the CBN cannabinoids, we have combinations of THC, CBD and CBN. That work in concert to help you go to sleep, and most importantly, stay asleep. And next year, I think we'll be starting to attack the anxiety, although we'll probably call it calm and chill. But anxiety is a real thing. And this year, specifically, we know people use our products for that, you know, our ratioed products already being used for sleep already being used for pain management already being used for anxiety. But now we want to rebrand them, and call them, you know, specifically need states so that users just can like pick it up on the website, pick it up at curbside delivery, without having to necessarily engage with a budtender.
Well, and having spent some time in marketing, I, you know, I look at it like a funnel. And a lot of times, people at the top of the funnel, you need to communicate with them about what the benefits are. And again, we're not that far out of prohibition where a lot of people think cannabis is for stoners who sit on the couch, it's gonna wreck your motivation. It's a gateway to other things that aren't good. Your story is polar opposite. It's the key to wellness. It's clean out your medicine cabinet, you can have wellness with this plant.
Guy Rocourt 11:22
No, it's true. You know, again, you know, you asked me earlier, it's like, 'Are there any topics I wouldn't cover?' Transparency is the key. Honesty is the key. Okay. There are forces at work that have a vested capitalist interest to keep information a certain way. Alcohol is the gateway drug. I mean, I'm sorry, it's like I'm not a prohibitionist. I would never suggest that we prohibit alcohol but I just want to be fair and honest. I've always said cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. It's interesting to me that handles of vodka are not childproof, but yet the smallest cannabis products are childproof. I think they should be both childproof. For the record. I think that alcohol should be as regulated as we are not only for testing in terms of residual solvents, pesticides, but also the dispensing because unlike cannabis, your life can be ruined by alcohol, there's more there is demonstrable evidence of that. More importantly, when it comes to this notion of wellness, we all have stressful days, our world is getting tighter, harder, more competitive, more stressful, more anxiety ridden. Most of us do need to come home and usually reach for something, whether it's food, whether it's alcohol, whether it's cannabis, to breathe out some of that stress, well, of those three things, even including food, I think that cannabis is probably the best suited, right, you're not going to put on extra weight, which is going to affect your health, you're still going to be able to get up in the morning without a hangover and be able to be productive and earn for your family. So just being honest and clear about what's what is what's needed. Yes, we've had 100 years of bad information and mis programming, and we need to leave that behind. I call it cannabis shame. And words are powerful. Whenever I hear anybody even remotely tried to put cannabis in a bucket or push it over here to say, this is not wellness or this is something stone or your recreational I have to clap back at that because we need to dispel that information barred none, right because we live in a society where we over medicate people with things like Xanax, Valium, opiates, and it's not that I'm against those things. I'm just saying, let's be honest and clear about what's really hurting our nation and our kids because it's not cannabis.
Well, and it's refreshing to see that in your messaging, too. I remember looking at your site a few weeks ago and one of the headlines was better days are here. Laugh harder, feel better, enjoy more. You don't see a lot of companies being that bold, but that's a great statement.
Guy Rocourt 13:47
Yeah. And I think it's a truthful one again, I have no problem with the celebratory drink, right? But cannabis can be the same thing. You laugh more and feel better. You know, the fact is, CBD is an amazing compound. We know it wants to have a little bit of THC to help grease the lock. But when you start taking this as a regular everyday vitamin, and start lowering systemic inflammation throughout your body, you literally feel better. 20-somethings may not be able to access it, but when you breach 35 you start taking CBD, you notice a marked difference in how your body works. And every decade further, we should be using it more. I have this hypothesis that before the late 1800s we actually had much more cannabis in our diet simply because as a weed, it was mixed into foodstuffs. It was available, it was clearly used as medicines and whatnot. And I think we were getting a lot more cannabinoids in our system on a regular basis. What that means to the ECS and the health of, you know, prior generations. I'm not exactly sure I'm not a medical doctor, but I do think there's something there.
Yeah, I've definitely talked about this with some doctors about the idea that this is a supplement almost like a daily vitamin. And just to improve the tone of your endocannabinoid system gets you firing on all cylinders. Yep. Yep. You mentioned your products are solventless. Can you explain why that's important?
Guy Rocourt 15:10
Yeah, so this is a really, really good one. solventless just means we don't use any solvents. Moreover, and Papa and Barkley, not only do we not use any solvents to process our cannabis, we don't use any solvents or any chemicals in any of our products. And one thing I always like to say to folks is things that are made in California cannabis compliance system are the best things you can put on or in your body, bar none. MRSA testing requires it all our excipient, our lavenders, our peppermint oils, anything that we mix with our cannabis also gets tested like that final form, and it's way above generally regarded as safe. That being said, solventless as a term in cannabis means you did not extract the cannabis using any chemicals. So the reason why we like that is it we want to set the levels right, I don't have a problem with refined cannabis like these distillate products or even light hydrocarbon or CO2 products, but they are not as quality. On the wine side, for instance, you know that if you take a bunch of grapes, and you process them, and you make box wine, that that's different than $1,000 bottle of wine, you know, the cool press, olive oil is going to be, you know, much more expensive than light hydrocarbon extracted olive oil. In our industry, it's important that we start to set those levels and get that education out. Otherwise, folks will just race to the bottom, which is what we definitely see on the national CBD, a race to the bottom where everything is just isolate, it's all about margin and they stepped away from plant-based medicine. When you talk about solventless you have to be plant-based medicine because you will not be refining the plant using any chemicals, so it's going to be as close to a whole plant thing as possible. So we use several extraction methods and I'll explain them briefly because they're that simple. The first is what we call lipid infusion. A liquid is a fat MCT oil, coconut oil. Um, you know, hemp seed oil, safflower oil, whatever oil grapeseed oil you want, right, you just take the flowers, you soak them. In that oil, we have a proprietary heat and pressure system because we're not only just trying to get the cannabinoids and the terpenes, which naturally melt into the oil. But we're also trying to get some of that green, chlorophyll and plant fats and phytonutrients. Because we believe for our tinctures, and topicals. They make the difference. And the green color of our tinctures and topicals are just that they are chlorophyll. And if you were to leave them in the sun, they would turn they would they would they're still alive, right, they would turn blonde, they would go away. So that's one version. The other version is, we simply, the most ancient version of getting cannabis extracts, we dry sieve or keif, where we chilled the flowers. And then we shake them and then this these great little crystals come off. For those who don't know, the medicine only exists in the trichome head and the trichome head is a little gland that the plants secretes to protect its leaves which protected seeds, so the plant is trying to protect itself. But luckily nature put in that protective mechanism, these awesome little trichome glands that can train our cannabinoids, and our our terpene. So in the key if you have these crystals, you can use it just like that. You can also press it between two plates in a silk sock and get what we call is rosin, which is just the oil holding back any trichome heads and skins and stalks and whatnot. And then so now we have the rise. And we have the kief and we have the lipid infusion and those are the things that power all our products. As a high-end, like halo product, we have a sub brand called Papa Select which two years running not won just first, but second and third, in a hash competition here in California known as the Emerald Cup. It's a blind competition. So winning two years in a row sweeping the category definitely says I think that we know how to do it. But with that product, we wash it in ice water, those fruits, those little trichome glands break off, and we grab them in what they call bubble bags, these little seal bags. And that process is that product is used as a concentrate for aromatherapy or light vapor light, low-temperature vaporization. So it's a little bit about our process, but it's all clean. It's all solventless. The only thing that touches your plant is pressure, the only thing that touches your product is water or a little bit of pressure. Yeah, you feel really proud about that. Because we think that while all the noise that's going on about making different products and you know, make delta 8 and all these, you know isomers and isolated products. What got us here is things that was grown in the garage and things that were made in grandma's kitchen, simple formulations that work that people risked jail for, I want to make sure we understand that, that we codify that and that we put that on the top shelf where it belongs because it's a lot harder to do these artificial processes than it is to put it in a big waters machine, get an isolate and just introduce that as a you know, single-source ingredient.
Right some of the things you're describing are fairly labor intensive, as you mentioned, there's sort of a halo around that. Are you able to scale to the degree that you want to? Or are these more kind of a boutique-level brand products?
Guy Rocourt 20:11
Well, yeah. So that's a great question. And yeah, we are going to get to be able to scale how we want, do we have to do it ourselves? 100% you know, shout out to Pure Pressure in Denver. There are some companies that are, you know, helping a scale solventless it's going to be a little bit more hands-on, the extraction rates will never be that of light hydrocarbon, or cryo ethanol, but they don't need to be right. I mean, we often process our product and then resell it. If there's any cannabinoids left, like we're not about waste, no cannabinoid is left behind. If we can't process it, solvent, leucine, that material can still be sold to a provider to extract what other cannabinoids are in there. Right. So yeah, we're scaling it, it is a little bit more difficult. I'm proud to say that with the lipid infusion. While other companies have started to make things that they want to sell us, we started designing what we call the mega infuser. It's like a little inside joke, but essentially, it's a big pressure vessel, you know, I think it's about 50 gallons. And you put your cannabis material, your whatever oil of your choice in there, you cap it, and it has this great algorithm, and boom, you get this very concentrated lipid infusion. So we are scaling it, you know, and we're but we are building and creating devices ourselves to scale solventless.
You know, I did an interview a few weeks ago with the guy who was doing bio-synthetic cannabinoids. Would you guys ever look at that stuff?
Guy Rocourt 21:34
Um, well, you said an interesting word, they're synthetic. So it's a red flag for me, I can tell you even Delta 8, as an isomer is something we won't be able to access, because we're just not going to go, you know, the, the refining processes needed to make certain products are just not really, you know, I don't think they're in the cards for us. So you know, and again, it's not that I'm against that, that's for other people. But we are trying to keep it simple. For instance, on the Select side, we're doing some gummies coming out. And I want to do a strain-specific gummy to me, that doesn't mean just putting it on the pack, or sourcing single source. So it looks like that in metric to me, it means you can taste it. And so in a few months, you know, when you go to the store, and you get our gargoyle, melon berry or garlic juice Select gummies, they will taste just like the flower that's next to him. And more importantly, just like the concentrate, that's next to them, right? Because if you're really doing it right, you should be developing processes to keep the entire plants terpene profile and cannabinoid profile as nature intended right to you. I really think that for us, it's about this kind of farm to table, and we're going to be introducing formulations at the farm as a concept. So our ratioed products, we're already working with farmers to just grow the ratio like that, right? We want to get into, let's say, like, THCV, when we're gonna find a THCV dominant strain and grow it. And that's where we'll extract it. Could we do that in the lab? Sure. But that's not that there's a new way of creating medicine. And I think it starts at the farm.
You know, there's a lot of innovation in this space. And I'm, I hear you saying you're going to be innovative, but within your own standards, which are going to be more about the natural plant.
Yes, correct. Correct. That is exactly, it's like this is plant-based medicine. What got us here is, you know, plants like literally unrefined plants as it was when I was younger. I do have a business in Colorado that is a light hydrocarbon business, right? So it's not that and you can find me if you dig deep, and find me justifying the use of solvents and the ability for a scientist to extract those solvents and still give you a clean product. So I want to be clear that other processes are still coming to clear, like, you know, what do you use, like hydrocarbon or ethanol or CO2, you still have to test for residual solvents, and it has to be way above what is generally regarded as safe. So I don't have a problem with those things. I just think that there isn't a cleaner way to do it.
Well, the plant itself is so versatile. I mean, what we've been talking about tinctures, gummies, balms, all the things you can do with the plant and all the different cannabinoids, there's no shortage of innovation you could do in a natural way.
Guy Rocourt 24:10
Yeah, yeah, you know, and even the water solubility we will be getting into the beverage game. One thing I like about one thing we're starting to do as an organization, is think about our carbon footprint for the consumer, meaning I want you to buy my products and realize that I picked the best, most recyclable vessel, I took the time to think about the product from a sustainability perspective. So am I really ready to start bottling water with a little bit of cannabis and trucking it all over? Probably not. We will likely do a drink powder and more likely the first product that's going to come out or just infused sugar packets, right so here's a five grams sugar packet and with five milligrams of THC. If you take one sugar in your coffee, you're fine. You can add regular sugar. You can put it in your tea, you can play your Kool Aid, it's a great way to infuse. It's all natural. It's totally water-soluble and totally consistent. Um, but I'm not trucking a bunch of water around because we know that the beverage industry is, you know, really puts a toll on the roads moving liquid around.
You're wearing various hats there. You're the president and co-founder and chief product officer, do you have a favorite part of the job? Because we're touching on product development and marketing? On many aspects? Is there a part of it that you love?
Guy Rocourt 25:27
I think this is it right here. Part of my role as president is being, you know, the company's ambassador and you know, I've always been an advocate. I started working with Montel Williams, you know, 20 years ago when he first came out with his MS. And so advocacy is big. When I started my company in Denver, I realized that my heart was green. My problem with my partners there was that they were not into the advocacy portion, and it is needed. When we raise money here at Papa and Barkley we are first investors, one of the things we said when we were pitching was we're not only building our business, but we're building the shelf that our products are going to be on. And so for me right now, the favorite part of the job is out here, spreading the news and spreading the joy that is adult use, if you will, you know spreading the message of food, clothing and shelter, you know, I mean, yeah, food. I always put clothing and shelter to clothing and shelter to go to so food, shelter medicine or food, clothing, medicine, the way the way you want to see it. So I think that for me talking about how hemp can offset cotton production, how hemp seed oil can offset corn ethanol and how much better it is per acre, how hemp is a great remediator that can still provide fiber and oil for those industrial things. So as we start to wean ourselves off of petroleum, I think we should also be weaning ourselves off of corn ethanol because it does nothing for the land and per acre, we'd be better off going hemp seed. And then of course on the medicinal side. Before we give vets toxic drugs — I'm a vet myself — before we give, you know, PTSD vets, drugs that have the pain of suicide as a side effect, maybe we should start with cannabis. You know, anybody that's going through chemo or is in some oncology treatment right now should be on a cannabis tincture one if anything, just to tamp down the nausea. As you know pain management is two forks, the mental component and the physical component cannabis hits both. So why give somebody a Xanax and an opiate, when you can start them with cannabis? It's true that cannabis sometimes can't deal like when you're in shock, or if the pain is too acute. So when you just got into the accident, you might need these opiates. I'm not saying that we need to dispel some of these great pharma things that have been developed over the years. I think we just need to be honest and transparent and realize those are at the beginning. But you know, they're not permanent. People should not be re-upping on their opioid dose once they've left the hospital, they probably should get a cannabis prescription to manage their pain, because that'll let them continue to go to the bathroom, continue to eat good food, and more importantly, maybe get good rest at night. So you can get up stronger the next day. But you know, we're not even having that conversation as a nation. So this is my favorite part of the job, spreading just simple truths.
Well, you've definitely got the breadth and depth of knowledge around this that boy some of the Johnny-come-latelys don't I mean, there are people jumping on this bandwagon. But you've been here. Can you give us a little backstory, you mentioned Montel Williams, can you tell us about that?
Guy Rocourt 28:24
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I'm, I'm originally from New York City. I left New York and I joined the military during the United States Navy years and years ago when we were in the Cold War. And I actually came to California for boot camp. But then during a you know, I got this scholarship, I got ROTC, I went to school in Rochester, New York, and the Cold War ended and at the time, you know, they were downsizing the military. So I did not I did not continue my scholarship I figured out other ways to pay for school student loans and stuff you know that you learn so if any young people are listening this I encourage you just get into school and then figure out how to pay for it — do not be daunted. Because if I had been daunted I would not have gone or continued so I switched from physics to filmmaking in school and then I found myself in New York in the early 90s doing low-budget feature production, which was taking off at the time and film is giving way to video and whatnot. And I got called for this movie and it's Montel Williams and I didn't know that much about him but turns out Montel was also in the military. He was also on submarines, which I had done a small stint on, so we bonded pretty quickly. In that movie is when he came out with his MS and so of course you know I was using cannabis has always been in my life I've never used you know, never been hospitalized. I've just I believe that cannabis has kept me healthy, knock on wood. So I started sharing cannabis with Montel. He ends up, you know, it works for his MS. We end up doing a deep dive and start doing a lot of advocacy. And I work with Montel basically doing advocacy going around for another decade. In that time. I see a lot, I'm exposed to a lot, you know people, one thing you know about a celeb, they're probably not a cop, I guess is why people would open their doors to Montel. He's also very personable. So I got to see a lot of behind the scenes. So that by like, you know, early 2000, I started a small cultivation. I had another partner who happened to have Crohn's disease, very smart gentleman that went to Harvard, but could not continue in the workforce, because you know, he had a debilitating disease that, you know, he just couldn't work a nine to five, it's like, you can be productive, but it had to be on his terms. So he was able to commune with the plants and work with them. Of course, it also works for his Crohn's disease, as cannabis seems to work very well with autoimmune diseases. And so that's very exciting for the future. So I started cultivating and as they say, two lights become four lights become eight lights. And at the time, you know, it's so funny, we saw some of the nefarious things that are coming home to roost. Back then I was working for Paramount, I had moved out to California with Montel's help and got a job at the lot and worked for Paramount. And Viacom was doing this thing called vertical integration. And from a business sense, it seemed to make all sense. But we should have kind of known right there, that we don't want all our media laddering up to one or two sources, because that's when you get polarized misinformation. And I think we're paying for that as a nation now. But I kind of felt it was icky. And all of a sudden, my ladies are doing great. We were also doing those no doc loans back then. So all I had to do was show a pay stub, and somebody would give me a loan and I could rent a house. And needless to say, I didn't intend to be an outlaw. But my belief after advocacy after seeing people so helped, you know, going with until we got to see, like whether it was epilepsy patients, MS patients, Krohn's patients, cancer patients really getting the benefit. And never mind that. I mean, again, yeah, it's like, it was so obvious to me that this was the right thing to do that there was no way that I could step back from it. And so yeah, for a little bit, I became an outlaw and definitely was growing cannabis, and you know, supporting collectives in the Los Angeles area. And around I think you know, 2009 2010, I saw my first electronic cigarette. And of course, I think like everybody else, the first thing I thought was like, oh, how do you put cannabis in there? And I figured that out, helped some partners, and you know, started coming up with these early e-cig formulations. You know, sharing those with folks with Montel and stuff. And sure enough, the phone started to ring and you're like, how do we monetize this? And I was like, well, there's nothing happening in California, you know, Proposition 19. It just failed. And they're like, What do you know about Colorado is like, not too much. But sure enough, by 2011, 2012, we had taken over a distressed asset, which I would not do now. Knowing what I know, I kind of regret that woman had an operation called Twirling Hippie, but could not make the jump to compliance with all the payments and stuff like that. So we were able to get her grandfathered location for not a lot of money. But I took that location and converted into one of the first light hydrocarbon labs in the city of Denver and started making vape pens. And back then it was just myself with our company, NEOs and open, really making vape pens, right. And open, of course, coming, you know, with organic brands, and they're great marketing, even though I felt like I had a better product, they had a better book cover. So I started learning the business side. And you know, coming from the digital market, we didn't brand at all on purpose. And now it's all about branding. It's all about that book cover. And so, yeah, and then finally, you know, I met Adam, through a friend here, which is maybe a story for another day. And, and, yeah, I know, I got, you know, one thing I saw in Adam and our original investors that I was looking for, was this green heart, this, this, this need to elevate cannabis to normalize cannabis, you know, to let go of cannabis shame to advocate for it above and beyond just our business. Right. Um, and so one of the values that we also put forth early on was quality over margin, you know, that makes investors tremble a little bit. But I do think it's the way the future I think, especially with this millennial generation, they are looking under the hood of companies, you know, I you know, shout out to Ben and Jerry's, it's like, companies, if corporations are going to be people that we need to look at them as people and hold them accountable for what they say, and sometimes what they don't say.
Well said, you're an OG! You went from the military, to the movies and into the business. So that's a good summary. I want to talk about the social justice piece of this. I mean, we are evolving as a nation obviously, we all know cannabis has been used as... It's never killed anybody except in drug raids. And it's been used as a way to incarcerate people, ruin their lives, to further a racist narrative. Where do you see us on that spectrum? Are we making the progress we need to make?
Guy Rocourt 34:45
Yeah, you know, unfortunately, we are not making progress. And so you know, I told you I grew up in New York City. I grew up in Manhattan a lot on the Lower East Side. I'm really honored to have grown up in punk rock and in that whole movement, Songs of my youth are still so relevant today. And that's what makes me sad. Like, I grew up when we put this stuff on the table, Reagan youth put this on the table, we — these problems have been here too long. And I am ashamed that for a part of my adult life, I just kind of closed my eyes to it and just was like, even through the George Bush years, I was just like, we are getting better. I just had to believe that we are getting better. But in the last four years, seeing the rise of fascism, not only here in our country, but around the world, something is wrong. And it bothers me and I do think that cannabis is the answer, by the way. And maybe that's another story for another time. But I don't believe we're making progress. And while I really appreciate the verdict, that is just the tip of the iceberg. OK, we have the system, unfortunately, to quote Trevor Noah, the system is working as intended, it was designed, it is designed to keep poor people in check, not just people of color, but poor people. As it turns out, our immigrants, our minorities tend to be poor women getting, you know, 80 cents on the dollar. And in some cases, not even really being allowed access to work, parents and guardians, thinking about women's education not being as much as their son's, like we have these broken things in our system that create these marginalized communities, that the police are enforcing to keep where they are, they are supposed to keep poor and marginalized communities in their place. And unfortunately, I think it's working. And I think the war on drugs was another way to separate that if you have enough money to make bail enough money to get a lawyer, you walk, if you don't, you go to jail, or at the very least we can deny you federal funding. I find myself so blessed. I was in college, like everybody else I was out, you know, especially right out of the service. I knew some people that were growing, I had seen cannabis. And yeah, I remember one time getting pulled over, I had cannabis in my pocket, if that gentleman who pulled me out of the car and found it, even if he had done the right thing, and just given me the citation that would have dropped my Pell grant, my student loans, and I would have been out of school the next day, right? That's what's happening, keeping people in their place. So yeah, I, you know, I won't use any words like, you know, any triggering words, but we do need to address our system of policing, because it is not broken. It's working as intended. So maybe we need to fix it with a different intention. And yeah, and sadly, to answer the question directly, no, we have not made any progress in my short 50 years here. I'm saddened by the absolute lack of progress. Because when I was young, it was a big deal then, and it feels like for me I have a 24 year old and a 12 year old, it's still a big deal for them. So yeah, we need to get to the business of making change.
Do you see any optimism in you know, state by state, the legalization wave just continues to grow. And there is more pressure at the federal level. You know, once those laws are changed, then the police have a different imperative. If they get a whiff of cannabis or they say they get a whiff of cannabis, they don't have the license to knock the door down and pull you out of the car. Do you see any cause for optimism on that front?
Guy Rocourt 38:09
Well, 100% you know, just normalizing cannabis and at least stopping people like you know, I think about New York City decriminalizing with their stop and frisk, every single kid who got stopped and frisked and got had a little bit of cannabis again, their lives were stopped right there because that's on their record. And that prevents future opportunities. So we need all that to be expunged and cleaned up as well. But I'll share a quick story for your listeners, shout out to CHP because maybe there's some education happening. This was a few years ago, totally my fault. I was going to pick up lunch for the folks. This is when we still were based in Los Angeles. I get on the 2 freeway. I'm being a little obnoxious. Even though I'm getting off the next ramp. I just got it. I get on the ramp hot. I stay hot. And sure enough lights are behind me. He pulls me over. I reek of cannabis. He knocks on the rear window, passenger-side rear window and I look at him and I lower it. He's like, “front window.’ So I look at my windshield and I'm like ‘What? He's like, ‘front window,’ and I'm like, oh, it means passenger-front window. So I lower it. He comes in and he's visibly upset and agitated that I've been speeding. I totally know I've done something wrong. But the first thing he says is he's like, 'I'm gonna ask you one time. I know you probably work in some dispensary or something. When was the last time you smoked?' I was like, 'Sir, we're not allowed to consume at work. I'm just going to get lunch. I totally apologize. I was looking at that motorcycle.' He's like, 'I was chasing that bike. And then I saw you and I was visibly upset.' I give him my paperwork. Normally, especially for me as a person of color. They always run it. He looks at it. He looks at the traffic. He puts it down. He's like 'You know better, you better slow down.' And I was like 'Thanks,' and just walks away. I can tell you that a year before that, just the smell of cannabis would have taken six police cars and me being faced down, an entire search for my car. The fact that he had the wherewithal to think that I might actually work in cannabis that how could somebody's car reek so bad if they weren't in an environment working? Was telling. So, you know, kudos to the CHP, I don't always have a lot of positive things to say about police officers, but I do see it changing. It's things like that that are changing and having witnessed it and experienced it myself. Yeah, we're making some changes there. And that will be a positive thing that kids and adults and other people are not being pulled out of their car because of some cannabis smell.
Yeah, we're in California with Colorado kind of leading the way on some of these things. back to business. You guys are national with your CBD products in California only with the THC.
Guy Rocourt 40:41
Yeah. So one thing I'd like to note is our CBD products on the national side are tested. In the California MRSA system. It's very important to us that it's the same product. Our most popular product in California and the national side are the same product, our 3:1 tincture and our CBD tincture on the national side. They both have that trace amount of THC, they all come from the varietal. Luckily for us, Colorado, while California was a little bit late with their hemp bill, and that's starting to work its way out Oregon, Colorado and Vermont specifically had tons of great real flowers. Yes, the feds want to call it hemp because it has less than point 3% THC. But these are smokeable awesome cannabis CBD rich flowers, and we use them in the same lipid infusion process, same keeping process. So all our national products mirror our California products with the exception that they just happened to be CBD-rich and have that less than point 3% threshold that the feds require for quote unquote, hemp based products. That's important.
Do you see yourself as prohibition lifts in some other states, do you see the THC side of your business expanding beyond California.
Guy Rocourt 41:53
100%. And the only reason why we haven't done it yet is I'll say very candidly, these MSOs out here need to get back in the right game of wellness. There's a lot of big moneyed companies, they call themselves multi-state operators. And you'll look that a lot of these multi-state operators don't operate in California because in California, we have a cultural heart and cannabis legacy and will not tolerate the whitewashing of cannabis. But what I see happening in Florida, what I see happening in Illinois, what I see happening in Oklahoma, and definitely, let's go back to Florida, like there's one company there, we don't need to mention names that have boxed people out, on some 65%, and are not even really putting out great products. Right? That doesn't seem like capitalism to me. So, which is it Florida. So yeah, we will be national, for sure we're doing it the right way. And so yeah, we have not found that right MSO, or multi state operator or, you know, the right licensing agreements, we want to make sure that the brand and the brands integrity and identity were solid. And while I want to provide safe access, because that's always been the mission to as many people as possible. Right now we're doing it just with these CBD-rich products, eventually, I do hope that we can provide our full suite to everybody, not only in the nation, but the world. And arguably If it was up to me with the appellation and everything, all our goods would be produced here in Humboldt, or maybe the Emerald Triangle right here in the Pacific Northwest, for the entire nation, and of course, eventually the entire world. That's our future plan. You know, we have the buildings, we're building the crew. And so one day, I know it'll take a while. I mean, I'm a good student of alcohol prohibition. It's like even if the feds do legalize, it won't be like interstate commerce happens overnight. You know, all those things will be individual as the states work out their deals, but I do you hope that let's say in 10 years, that we're making all our products here in Humboldt, and they're being trucked through the nation, you know, with the same quality and then of course, being exported to the world so that everybody can partake in these great products.
That's a big vision and as you said earlier, baby steps one step at a time. What is your favorite cannabis product?
Guy Rocourt 43:57
Um, that's a great question. Um, I would think so. Okay, my my favorite cannabis product is my CBD capsules because if I had to give everything up, I would want to keep taking those because they definitely you know, they keep me right you know, I'm like I said, I'm almost 50, I'll be 50 in November so CBD, things now in terms of like products that I like, you know, we recently released a CannaGar with in collaboration with El Blanco, so our Papa Select infused categories. That's luxury, like pre rolls, you know, are not you know, they're convenient, but they're not there. It's like cigarettes. You know, there's not magazines about cigarettes, but cannegars — yeah, there are levels to it. You know, shout out to OR Cannegar Oregon that does the rose petals, Wolf Mountain Organics here in Humboldt. And of course, El Blunto and Albert Einstone. Those guys are doing great, smooth, clearly whole flower at El Blunto. They use a coarse grind. So you can look at the tip of the cannegar and it's buds, it's not, it's definitely not trimmed because you're not, it's not ground. It's clearly coarse ground flowers, right. So that's awesome. And then on the service side, I know, cannabis-infused massages are next level, right? While non-psychoactive there is a warm feeling I like to describe it as like when you come out of the shower and you get a towel right out of the dryer, that feeling of a warm hug you when you get a cannabis-infused massage or THC-infused massage specifically, it is next level. And so I really appreciate that service now that is becoming available at our spa. And then of course, you know, we have a lot of providers here in Humboldt that you can bring your THC balm to our massage oil, and they'll use that. And then lastly, I would say from a service perspective, a secondary service perspective, like alcohol, you can make a drink at home when you go to a bar and a budtender makes it for you. It seems a little bit more special. I love having joints or categories rolled for me, right. So definitely in our dispensary, there will be this notion that you can buy flowers and have somebody roll it for you before you consume. And then I also like being served dabs. While you know my Puffco is pretty easy to use. I do like when a traditional rig is created, the temperature is perfect. You know the hash is pressed into a nice flag and presented to me just to inhale or breathe in that aromatherapy. I do put those are all these new services that I'm getting into. So I wish it could just be one. But I mean, if it is going to be one like if everything was taken away, it would be like. 'Please leave me my CBD caps.'
With that all sounds next level. I mean, I can't wait to get a THC massage. Wow. Is there anything we haven't covered that we should?
Guy Rocourt 46:35
So we talked a little bit about strain specificity and tasting the strain. And so we have some Select gummies out, we have our Sleep Suite coming out, you know, you know, those are the things that I should be plugging. Well, you know, one thing that I would mention is we also have these high-potency capsules coming in. When we talk about the disconnect between you know what's happening in Wall Street, what's happening in the what happens in the real world. A lot of folks were like, 'Oh, well, these high-potency THC caps are for recreational use,' and are hinting at some sort of abuse. And it's very hard for the uninitiated to get out of their head that cannabis is not about abuse. It is very hard to abuse, abuse or become a cannabis addict, that ultimate notion of a stoner that's couch-locked there. That is an extreme case that is not really true. It's a meme that was foisted on us. Right, and so high-THC cops, what we've realized is those are for patients. I can tell you people like Montel that have active MS. Or my partner who had Crohn's, they need hundreds of milligrams regularly during the day. That's how they keep themselves off of these analgesics. Right. I have a friend in my gym and back in LA, a horse trainer, you know, older woman, trains, horses, trains young people on horses, told me she was eating eight Advil a day. I got her on the 1:3 tincture, no more Advil, if she, yeah, sure if she takes a little bit too much, maybe she's on that euphoria side, I can't even call it high, because that's not the case. I should also note for folks who don't know, cannabis, like all other analgesics, will go to the ailment before it does anything, right. So similarly, if you are prescribed an opiate, it works to manage your pain. And of course, if you take too many, you are high. All drugs can do that. This becomes about dosing, proper dosing of cannabis, can lead to an effective pain management that doesn't damage your liver, that promotes eating right, promotes great bodily functions, and promotes sleep. So these high-potency caps are not for recreational use, they are because folks who actually have an ailment really need this level of cannabinoid to manage their pain.
Right? For some there is a fear that I don't want to get high.
Guy Rocourt 48:47
Sure, sure. And look, I think that that's a legitimate fear. I think the THC sensitivity in terms of that paranoia and weirdness is also real. But like everything, it's all about starting slow, understanding and listening to your body. And if you went to a traditional Western doctor, they would prescribe you medicine, you would try it and if it worked, if anything weird happened, you call your doctor and they redo it or in two weeks you report in well, cannabis is the same way. You have to lean into it even more. One of the things we say about cannabis is it's personalized medicine. It is, we are not in the business of giving you a pill and saying you're cured. We're in the business of saying here's this plant with much with zero downside compared to pharma like zero downside? Yes, even if you have THC sensitivity, you might get the heart palpitations, you might get a little bit of the paranoia, but that's it. In most cases, the minute you're aware and made aware of that or made you feel comfortable, it goes away and in some cases, you have the THC sensitivity, you decide to go to the hospital and literally the minute you're in the waiting room, you start to feel better because you feel safe. It's really that simple when it comes to THC sensitivity. That being said, I think that people should titrate slowly, work their way up and find where the ratios come into CBD and THC buffer. We all have that magical ratio that works right for us. You do need to lean into it. But the biggest outcome might be a little sleepiness, maybe a little bit of paranoia that breaks into sleepiness once you ride that out. So, um, yeah, I respect the fact that folks don't want to get high. That is not what this is about. But let's also be honest, all analgesics have the potential for mis-dosing that could lead to, quote unquote, being high.
Right. And possibly fatal addiction. Yes. I want to ask you something about, you mentioned the sleep suite, so that includes gummies, tinctures, capsules — is the idea to sample each and find what works best for you or what's going on there?
Guy Rocourt 50:48
Yeah, that's right. That is exactly right. You know, so one thing we've started to realize is people's metabolisms are different and how they process sugars and fats are different. needs are different. So for instance, if the chocolate is high fat content, for some folks, it takes way too long to onset. And for other folks, it burns quicker. The gummies are the same thing. Some people it burns quickly, because of the sugar content for some people, not so much. Right. Tinctures you can do submucosal, right, or I think we're actually going to be using a spray bottle. And so I apologize, it'll be a sleep spray, that will atomize the tincture, so that it mist into your mouth so that it's being absorbed mucosally, so that you get a more rapid onset. And then of course, you have the capsules that are just like it's like taking a tincture and swallowing it. So it'll take a little bit longer. We also, you know, promote the idea of regimen. So you might take a squirt of the, let's say, you, you're coming off of Ambien, but that's how bad your sleep pattern is. You might need to spray the tincture for the rapid onset and take a capsule to stay asleep. But yeah, we're providing different modalities for you to figure out which one works best for you.
That makes a lot of sense. I mean, I say it almost every show, no matter who I'm talking to with cannabis, there's a test-and-learn dynamic, where you can't say one thing is true for everybody. As you mentioned, we've got different genetics, set and setting are gonna matter. So it makes a lot of sense to give people that choice. Yeah. Good. I want to thank you for taking the time. I know you're super busy, but man, you are a great advocate for the plant in all its uses. And I know that the listeners are gonna really enjoy this episode.
Guy Rocourt 52:26
Awesome. Well, thanks for having me. Again, you know, my favorite part of the gig is just spreading that truth. Because, yeah, it just, you know, they say in advertising, they take six touches. So I guess every person who listens to me has to hear me six times before it sinks in and I'm up to the task.
Well, thank you so much for being our guest. Good luck up there.
Guy Rocourt 52:45
Alright, thanks. I appreciate it. Tom.
You've been listening to the Kannaboom podcast with host Tom Stacey. If you like the show and want to know more, please check us out at Kannaboom with a k.com. And please leave us a review at Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. See you next week.
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