When you visit an Organically Connected store, you’re experiencing a piece of true New York cannabinoid history. One of the first CBD retailers on Long Island, the brand now has four locations - in Patchogue, Port Jefferson, Huntington, and Jamaica, Queens - and serves as an educational touchstone for most adults in those towns to have their inaugural positive interaction with the plant. The company’s founder, Spech, has not only turned his stores into cultural destinations, but he himself is a treasure trove of creative ingenuity.
Who Is Organically Connected Founder Spech? A Legacy Of Cannabis, Hip Hop, And 9/11 Packs
Spech’s story is a powerful legacy of cannabis, hip hop, and the virally popular 9/11 packs that broke the internet (but more on those later). Born in Queens, New York, he inherited an appreciation for the plant in his half-Jamaican, half-Cuban heritage, with his Jamaican relatives practicing many Rastafarian traditions. He grew up understanding cannabis as an agent for healing, a sacrament that brought communities together.
“It’s always been a spiritual upbringing as much as a survival upbringing,” the entrepreneur says.
At the same time, Spech’s father ran two of Long Island’s most successful record stores, working directly with VP Records, the world’s largest Caribbean-owned label. Hip hop icons like LL Cool J, Brand Nubian, and Das EFX often showed up to do business.
“Dad was well known,” his son remembers. “He had a lot of people that supported him. Through it all, these guys were marijuana advocates. It’s almost like history repeating itself, just in a different manner, because the same kind of guys then come to me now for their medicine.”
How Did Organically Connected Bring CBD Education To Long Island?
Organically Connected certainly operates on a hip hop atmosphere. Spech, his fiancee (who runs the brand with him), and their team have cultivated an environment in their stores that’s a full-senses shopping experience. Music plays, friends and neighbors congregate, and there are always new products in a vast range of categories to learn about, from beauty, bath and skincare items to petcare products to CBD-infused kombucha tea. There’s even a draft setup so that consumers can sample different kombucha flavors before they buy.
Asked how he’s been able to combat Long Islanders’ vehement resistance to cannabis - a factor that has prevented most communities in the area from allowing adult-use retailers - Spech explains that his company focuses on destigmatization. “The first thing we did was educate our customers before they were willing to become customers. For two years, it was teaching and giving everybody samples, brochures and things for them to research themselves. Once they go and know that you’re not there just for money, you’re actually there for their comfort and the community, they want you there. Everything in my store has helped… This is Mother Nature’s medicine to the world. There are a lot of things that grow naturally that we’re supposed to use to help heal ourselves.”
NY Budtenderz: Cannabis-Themed Events
Beyond Organically Connected, the gentle giant (Spech stands 6’7”) dedicates himself to bringing out other people’s most vibrant energies. His brand NY Budtenderz coordinates cannabis-themed events throughout New York, drawing on the knowledge that he’s gleaned through years in music and hospitality. At events, his team shares new product drops from their Jellybean line; recent offerings include a collaboration with journalist and media personally ItsBizkitt, “the biggest blogger in the world.” NY Budtenderz also provides what Spech calls “THC Narcan” - a CBD spray that helps anyone overwhelmed by THC to come down from their high. For those Long Islanders worried about stoners running amok in their neighborhoods, don’t fret: The spray is sold in all the Organically Connected stores too.
How Did Spech Create The 9/11 Packs?
But Spech’s greatest claim to fame is one you’ll only know if you’re “in the know.” After 9/11, to help grieving friends and family members heal, he invented the “9/11 packs,” the original split bag of flower on the market. One side featured Sour Diesel and the other Purple Haze, the two strains most representative of New York’s cannabis culture. Proceeds from the packs directly benefited the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
“I figured the green community could honor the people who passed away and honor the things we love as well,” the innovator states. “The first year, I was able to donate about $10,000 to the Fund.” Though he kept up the bags as a donation tool every year, even releasing a twentieth anniversary pack in 2021, he says they didn’t go viral online until MJBizCon 2022. NY Budtenderz happened to be working an event at Mike Tyson’s Tyson Ranch in Las Vegas, and attendees went wild over the packs.
For the next release, Spech intends to do a complete redesign of the bag and expand the associated merch. The strains, however, will always be the classics.
“When you talk about going to New York to get some really mind-blowing flower, you are going to get Purple Haze or Sour Diesel,” the OG affirms. “Sour Diesel was the craziest thing that always got you in trouble with the law, your parents, or had people digging in your stash. Purple Haze is the one thing wherever you lit up, people knew that you lit up Purple Haze… Nobody’s talking about Haze right now, but that’s one of the best smelling, feeling flowers I can remember. If you’re an artist and want to be creative, if you’re on the go and want to be uplifted, get some energy, you had that Purple Haze. Raekwon and Jadakiss, that’s their favorite strain.”
Spech's Canna Tour Bus: Journey To Organically Connected!
Now, for those strain enthusiasts who could listen to Spech wax lyrical about Haze all day, you’re in luck. (And not just because he’s one of New York’s wisest cultivar historians!) His latest venture is the Canna Tour Bus, a 420-friendly party bus available for bookings that can take passengers on a tour of all the Organically Connected locations. Tourists can even be picked up directly from the airport and begin their Long Island educational journey in the safest way possible, with an expert who knows the plant inside-out. To book a tour, check out @cannatourbus on Instagram.
There’s a lot on the horizon that Spech is excited to share with a wider audience, one piece of information at a time. But his mission will always come back to the plant’s sacred role as he knew her best. So if you’re ready for full-spectrum sensory elevation, take a trip to Long Island. It’s time to get Organically Connected!
*A version of this article originally appeared in Honeysuckle's 17th print edition, featuring Havoc of Mobb Deep. Get your copy now at a local dispensary or click here to order!
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Featured image: Organically Connected founder Spech with his NY Budtenderz Jellybean merch (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture