Amethyst Kinney Greeted every person that attended the Tucson February Cannafriends event on Thursday, Feb. 17.
Kinney stood by the parking lot entrance into The Annabelle Photography Studio at 630 E. Ninth St., to greet each person with a smile and a hug before telling them to smoke a free “dab” before entering the studio.
Kinney is the regional director of Cannafriends Tucson, a cannabis networking group that grew out of the Phoenix-based Cannafriends organization. Kinney began the Cannafriends networking event in Tucson in December 2021.
“What I love about it is, it’s a great place for people who smoke cannabis who saw the stigmas of ‘I’m looked down upon because I smoke cannabis,’ it’s a safe place for them to come,” Kinney said.
Tickets for the Cannafriends monthly event are $20, which includes access to cannabis-infused snacks like tater tots with kush sauce, in-person contact with cannabis brand associates and raffle contests. Kinney said she loves the event because cannabis users can discover new products and where they are available in Tucson. Infused and non-infused foods were provided by local restaurant Dante’s Fire.
Kinney’s love for cannabis grew out of a personal health crisis. In 2010, she was diagnosed with the chronic disease multiple sclerosis (MS). Her disease was eating away at the protective barrier around her nerves, resulting in intense chronic pain.
“I was bedridden and I was taking all the pills, like seven bottles on the side of my table,” Kinney said. “I couldn’t get out of bed, I would have to get a walker and struggle to the kitchen to do dishes because I felt like I needed to do something to help out.”
It wasn’t until Kinney’s friend told her to try cannabis that she began to walk independently again.
“Now I have only two bottles of pills,” Kinney said.
Since then, Kinney capitalizes on her new lot in life by being a cannabis advocate and industry networker. While working as regional director of Tucson Cannafriends, Kinney is also the treasurer of Arizona NORML, the marijuana legalization advocacy organization. AZ NORML was also one of the event vendors.
All of the vendors gave brand presentations and drew raffle prizes towards the end of the event.
Local Tucson brand iLava showcased the new iLava Touch gel. The iLava Touch topical combines more than 500 milligrams of THC and CBD oil in a skin-safe gel. Assistant Manager Michael Thomas of D2 Dispensary said the new lotion was formulated with an employee’s experience in mind.
Adriana Tysenn, compliance and education director at the Downtown and D2 Dispensaries, said during the presentation that she wanted to enhance the product to work for her own nerve condition. Previous topicals that were meant to help with her nerve pain stained her clothing, smelled of cannabis and didn’t fully absorb into her skin.
“They [iLava] hired a clinical aromatherapist so we could work on the smell,” Tysenn said. “There are nine different essential oils in the topical. The primary essential oils, corsican helichrysum, mango, ginger, and blue tansy, that’s what gives it a more herbal smell versus a cannabis smell, and we also have a carrying agent in it that allows it to be a systemic approach to medicating. The carrying agent is DMSO, so it goes deeper than just the dermis.”
Other vendors included Earth’s Healing Dispensary, Aeriz Aeroponic Cannabis, Titan Laboratories, Stiiizy, Delta 8 Oils, Extraction Goods, Nug Jewelz, Tucson House of Cannabis and the Marijuana Industry Trade Association (MITA).
MITA founder Demitri Downing said the organization mainly meets in Phoenix but hopes to move down to Tucson as the cannabis industry continues to grow. The trade association offers a membership program that includes monthly meetings, training, education and networking opportunities for cannabis businesses. Downing gave a quick shoutout to iLava for creating more than 200 jobs in Tucson.
“If you’re part of the industry, come share, teach, learn, interact with your fellow industry members, and other individuals can come and learn from you as well,” Downing said.
Kinney thanked MITA for providing free promotion for the Cannafriends event and is looking forward to providing more safe spaces for cannabis users in Tucson.
“I’m gonna have so many more events in Tucson because we need to send love,” Kinney said.