Fast Five Q&A: Guy Rocourt, Co-founder and CEO of Papa & Barkley
The cannabis space has evolved since the early days of medical marijuana. What used to be a patient-focused market has shifted to a consumer-packaged goods supply chain, with many products mass-produced at scale.
Guy Rocourt wants to put the medicine back at the forefront. The co-founder and CEO of Papa & Barkley, Rocourt began his patient-centric approach as a caregiver to talk show host Montel Williams. Since then, he’s delivered a wide range of whole plant formulations meant to ease pain, promote sleep, and encourage healing through his wellness-focused brand. Through his work with GR Consulting, Rocourt continues to help cannabis companies develop clean and compliant medicine that makes a difference.
Rocourt answered GreenState’s Fast Five questions, shedding light on his commitment to the whole plant, the benefits of such products, and how consumers can educate themselves.
GreenState: How did your journey with cannabis begin?
Guy Rocourt: Like most folks, I experimented with cannabis in high school, but only briefly. It was the mid-’80s, and access was very restricted. I was on a path to join military service and had an indoctrination into the “just say no” movement. I viewed cannabis like any other illicit drug.
In college, after the military, I became more exposed to cannabis and quickly realized that it was much less dangerous than even alcohol, which was so prevalent on campus. By the time I graduated from college, I fully realized the potential for cannabis and used it personally to both focus when I needed to cut out the clutter and noise to study and to relax when things got stressful. I would say that my journey in earnest began when I met my good friend Montel Williams, who had MS, and I saw how this magical plant can really benefit patients.
GS: What’s your favorite way to consume?
GR: My favorite way to consume is smoking flowers. While I enjoy many of the new ways of consuming cannabis, old habits die hard. While I quit nicotine many years ago, in truth, I never quit smoking. I enjoy the pleasure of smoking, and smoking cannabis is much better and far less addictive than smoking cigarettes.
GS: You’re a big advocate for whole plant medicine. What does that mean?
GR: Whole plant medicine is real cannabis medicine. By that, I mean most of us who have been in cannabis for any period of time understand that smokable flower is what really got us through prohibition. Other products like Rick Simpson’s Phoenix Tears and other tinctures and products made in the traditional market during prohibition were all products that contained not only cannabinoids and terpenes but also some of the plant material, such as chlorophyll, plant fats, and other phytonutrients.
It’s important to note that most of the evidence we have around the safety and non-toxicity of cannabis relates to whole plant formulations, where the other parts of the plant medicine buffer any potential toxicity that the active ingredients THC, CBD, or otherwise might present.
Whole plant medicine is what is needed to change the paradigm in comparison to the pharma model of using active pharmaceutical ingredients or boiling medicines down to just their actives. We’ve seen this lead to toxicity issues and lower efficacy due to isolated compounds not being present with the other compounds, as they are in nature.
GS: What are the benefits of a whole plant product vs. an isolate/distillate?
GR: Whole plant products have greater efficacy due to the entourage effect. While pharma will tell you that plant medicine can be inconsistent and that terpenes and minor cannabinoids might fluctuate from batch to batch, I find that the lower toxicity and absence of side effects of whole plant medicine are far better than being able to control exactly how much, if any, the minor actives fluctuate.
I believe pharmaceuticals, in their quest to keep things consistent and monetizable, have failed us. This is evidenced by how many pharmaceuticals have a long list of side effects. Whole plant medicine, especially cannabis medicine, works synergistically with our bodies the way nature intended.
GS: How can consumers better educate themselves about the products at their local dispensary?
GR: The first question to ask a budtender at your local dispensary is, “What kind of cannabis education have you had?” There are many up-and-coming certification programs for cannabis professionals. Green Flower Media offers various programs in many universities, as well as the Ganjier certification. Budtenders with these certifications can speak to things beyond potency; they can speak to craftsmanship and the quality of the products.
In the absence of a good budtender, I think the patient is better off doing their own research. One simple way to know a high-quality cannabis product is to look at the label. The ingredients should be all-natural and simple to read and understand. If the formulation is too complex with a bunch of chemical words, it’s likely that the product is no longer plant medicine and should be avoided.
For example, the primary product in dispensaries, accounting for over 60% of sales, is flower; it has one ingredient. A good tincture typically has two ingredients, and a good gummy or topical might have no more than 7 to 10 ingredients, all of which can easily be read and understood by the layman. If the product you’re looking at doesn’t fit those requirements, it is likely a chemical concoction designed to extract your dollars and not heal you, falling back into the CVS and Walgreens paradigm of fake wellness.
Guy Rocourt is a 25-year veteran of the cannabis industry. He is the founder of GR Consulting and the Co-Founder and CEO of Papa & Barkley, a leading California cannabis wellness company. Guy also founded one of the first compliant companies in Colorado in 2012. Previously, he designed and built manufactured infused products facilities (MIPs) in multiple states, making him an expert in cannabis science, technology, strategy, and production.
Guy also has experience caring for patients with cannabis, as he spent many years as Montel Williams’ caregiver during his battle with MS. Guy graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and is a U.S. Navy veteran. Rocourt uses his keen understanding of the cannabis plant, cannabis culture, and business acumen to craft a variety of wellness products. He is on a mission to unlock the power of the plant to improve people’s lives.
The answers given by Q&A subjects do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState. The subject is solely responsible for the views stated in this piece.