Their destination? Burning Treez Festival, a large cannabis consumer music festival. The former Marine who served in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992 has been hardcore promoting his Jefro's Botanicals, which includes two wellness creams, at pot and music shindigs across the Southwest.
His first cream, Jefro's Copper Plus+ Massage Cream, won the Best Topical Award at the Phoenix Cannabis Awards Music Festival in May.
St. Amand sells the two-ounce canisters on his website, through online retailers, and at his brick-and-mortar storefront at 610 West Broadway Road in Tempe. He touts the cream, which retails for $64.95, as "the world's first CBD cream with Bio-Cu1 (copper1)." Rub it, or the extra-strength version, on your body, and "you'll feel a tingling sensation, with fast absorption, and quick relief from your discomfort," St. Amand told Phoenix New Times.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the nonpsychoactive compound in cannabis that is used by mainstream cream companies to help people with arthritis and soreness. Copper1, on the other hand, "absorbs into the applied area to help increase immune defense and is proven to regrow new blood vessels," according to the Jefro's Botanicals site.
By combining the two ingredients into his topicals, which he makes locally with organic and locally grown ingredients, St. Amand created a cream that "has touched so many" people suffering from a variety of physical ailments, he said. Some customers who claim to have been helped by Jefro's Botanicals products have sent St. Amand videos, which he reposts on social media.
The extra-strength version of the CBD cream is targeted at people with chronic pain, cuts, scratches, headaches, and gout, St. Amand said. The business's website makes it clear that the products aren't "meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or maintain any ailments or diseases in accordance with FDA guidelines." Customers, though, rave about how the creams help them.
More to Come From Jefro's Botanicals
Roy Moody, a Glendale resident who served in the U.S. Air Force for nine years, used the Copper Plus+ Massage Cream to help the gout he said he suffers from in his ankle. "It was gone that day, and anytime I had an issue, I'd just put some Jefro on," he explained. The cream also helped with a large cyst on his buttocks, he added. "In my record at the main [Veterans' Administration Medical Center] in Phoenix, [it says] Jefro's cream and the bio copper1 made this cyst disappear," Moody said.
Online, the creams are getting props as well. Jefro's Botanicals has received Star Seller status on Etsy, which reflects attentive customer service, five-star reviews, and on-time shipping, according to the selling platform. The company also scores a 4.8 out of five in its Google reviews.
St. Amand noted that his creams are "THC-, GMO- and pesticide-free" and packed with 400 milligrams of nearly all-organic CBD. "We have been a THC-free product to stay true to the CBD market. We plan on starting a THC brand with major rap artists coming into this beautiful industry of cannabis. I feel a THC line would help, as we have experimented with this and had amazing results. Although we need a license to work under, to make a THC line," he said.
St. Amand added that he uses THC for personal and medical reasons.
"I'm Jefro Kush! Heck yes, I consume," he exclaimed. "I love to smoke weed. We say, 'Hit a weed!'"
He developed the cream because of a tumor that developed behind his eye. In 2013, he had surgery based on a recommendation from the VA. "After that failed surgery, three months later, my tumor came back the exact same size. And being upset with this, I didn't know what to do, so they told me to come back and have surgery, and I told them, 'No, I refuse surgery' as they're going to cut a quarter of my face off and remove the tumor," he explained.
After he felt the pressure build in his right eye, he started searching online for different options and stumbled upon CBD. "In 2015, I started educating myself, and I started making my own creams," St. Amand said. Two years later, he started adding one milligram of copper1, then 10 and finally 20. The rest is Jefro's history.
But that use comes at a price where it concerns the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, St. Amand said. "They literally reduced my VA disability by 20 percent, which is $500 a month, because I said I smoked weed. It's in the documents I have. Crazy, but be careful on how much you say to them at the VA. It will come back and hurt your pocketbook for sure," he explained.
"Semper Fi," the veteran added, quoting the Marine Corps motto.
Guidelines from the VA said the agency will not deny benefits over marijuana, it encourages veterans to discuss its use with their providers, and that it will record that use in health records.
But St. Amand said that allowing the VA to record marijuana use impacts whether or not the agency prescribes other medications.
"Yes, we are still able to get our [cannabis] from local dispensaries. The problem is that [the VA staff allegedly] write notes in your file that state you stopped taking your prescribed medications that the VA tries to shove down your throat," he said. "Well, after smoking cannabis, what the hell do I or we need those opioids for? Corporate greed, possibly. I feel we are in a fight, and the only win is to make these natural medicines legal to all veterans and people of this earth."
St. Amand still loves his military comrades; he created different cover art for the canisters of his creams and gives a portion of those sales to veteran organizations.