By Veronica “Vee” Castillo

The Reclassification Tour traveled from the bottom of the east coast to the top, visiting cities, states, people, and businesses and focusing the conversation on the move in progress to reschedule Cannabis (Marijuana). 

The tour was led by Vee, the Traveling Cannabis Writer sponsored by heavyweight sponsor Sinful Brands/Drink Sinful, and a handful of others supporting: media and promotion (40 Tons Brand, BlkMeninSuits_UrbaneNation, and the Highly Connected App), and fashion (Styylistics and B Luxury Essentials). The tour left Florida and traveled through and to:

  • East Coast Georgia
  • East Coast South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Washington D.C
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Massachusetts

Screen Shot 2024 07 08 At 12.35.13 PMThe tour visited hemp farms, cannabis cultivation facilities, cannabis dispensaries, cannabis friendly lodging, cannabis labs, and USDA Agriculture Offices. 

The Reclassification Tour focused on the east coast because that’s where the constitution was signed, where the nation’s capital is located, and where the Civil War ended. It made sense to start the tour on the east coast.

As the tour moved from the bottom to the top, it made a stop in New Jersey and visited Bakin’ Bad, Sunny Tien, AC Leef, Simply Pure, and CannaVibes; all licensed cannabis dispensaries. Continue reading to hear directly from Vee and some of the New Jersey cannabis industry. 

The Exploration of New Jersey Cannabis

Atlantic City

This was my first time visiting Atlantic City, and my first time exploring New Jersey cannabis. South Jersey gave me Florida vibes: off the coast, many bodies of water, and so of course, lots of beach towns. Atlantic City felt like a laid back version of Las Vegas. I visited before the official start of summer so maybe this is true only for this time. For me, it was perfect.

I stayed at a hotel with casino/ casino with a hotel, on the intercoastal, with views of the marsh, Atlantic Ocean, and Brigantine. Leena Trinidad, my media assistant, promotional products business owner, and New Jersey native took care of booking my accommodations. She did great.

When I settled in, I learned that I was staying in a “smoking room” with views of the bay/intercoastal, and that Atlantic City is an island. It didn’t hit me as I was driving into Atlantic City but when I learned this, I recalled the bridges that you must cross to get in and out of Atlantic City and Brigantine.

Exploring the city was great! Leena was my tour guide and took me to the ocean, boardwalk, up and down the strip, the neighborhood, and cannabis dispensaries. 

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Bakin’ Bad Dispensary

Minority and Veteran owned, just off the boardwalk, and beautifully designed; the owners were so fun to talk to. We discussed their care of culture over capitalism, plans for expansion and merchandise, and the respect each partner/owner has for the other as business owner’s, which led to the collective. 

The owners of Bakin’ Bad Dispensary also work in/own businesses in food and beverage, fashion, and music. They join the many businesses that believe that products sell themselves and what businesses sell is the customer experience. Dispensaries carry much of the same products; Bakin’ Bad is dedicated to providing an experience that keeps the customer coming back. 

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Sunny Tien Dispensary

Minority woman owned with a team that stomps the pavement to let people know that the dispensary is available for their needs. We met an employee of the dispensary who was stomping the pavement in Atlantic City talking about Sunny Tien. She grabbed our attention and got us over for a visit; I’m glad we did. 

I was finally able to try ButACake and the budtenders were as happy to tell me all about their great products, as I was to see them displayed. The discussion I had with COO, Spencer Belz was insightful and exciting- cannabis consumption lounge coming soon!

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AC Leef  Dispensary

AC Leef is minority owned, licensed and under construction, and a few minutes away from the boardwalk across the street from Bader Field. I was happy to finally meet Miguel. We connected on socials a while back, and he has been supportive of my work by making sure his community see’s what I have going on. 

The team has some plans for this place, and they are so passionate about it that as they gave me the tour, I could see everything as if it was already built out. The conversation and appreciation filled the space.


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Simply Pure Dispensary

The capital of New Jersey, 33 miles away from Philadelphia, 66 miles away from New York City, and home to the CEO of Simply Pure in NJ (Simply Pure is also in Colorado), Tahir Johnson. This meet was overdue. I have been connected to Tahir for years and watching him grow in the industry has been nothing short of inspiring. I went from being a writer that couldn’t wait to share a piece of his story, to serving with him on the MCBA Board of Directors, where he serves as President. 

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The dispensary is beautiful and waiting patiently for the process that leads to opening day is finalized. The walls are filled with art and displays of Tahir’s story published in major media outlets. The floors made me feel like I was walking into another dimension, and the Simply Pure bot — I can’t wait to see it live and in action next time I visit. 

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Elmwood Park

CannaVibes Dispensary

Just off the Hudson River, 18 miles from New York City is Elmwood Park,New Jersey, home to Cuban woman–owned CannaVibes Dispensary. This was another meet that was long overdue. I love Linda Solana, the foundation of belief that the dispensary was built on, and the passion she has for the community. 

The dispensary layout, design, the shelves and display cases, the art on the walls, down to the light fixtures when first entering the dispensary; elegant and paying homage to roots. She, like Tahir, is patiently waiting for the process that leads to opening day to be over. When she opens her doors, vibes, the highest and best ones are what Linda and her team are passionately committing to providing. 

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I never expected to fall in love with the Garden State. Like Florida, the state is diverse in nature, people, and vibes. Driving to Atlantic City showed me that New Jersey is truly a garden state- farm, after farm, after farm. Atlantic City gave me island-ish Vegas vibes. Trenton gave me big city, urban jungle vibes, and Elmwood Park gave me — brace yourself because it starts to get packed here — for NY. I felt like I needed more time in New Jersey but the tour had to move on to New York.

Closing the article are thoughts on the Reclassification of Cannabis-Marijuana from those I visited in New Jersey:

Linda Solana, CannaVibes Dispensary says: “We need to deschedule. I think it’s a sin that immigrants can’t get medicine and will go to jail because it’s still considered a crime. We need to stand together and stop this hypocrisy. It’s a plant that provides medicine for many ailments.”

Sunny Tien Dispensary says: “Any progress in cannabis is welcome! Expanding access to research and development, drawing attention to the potential (yet widely accepted) medicinal benefits of cannabis, and creating avenues to utilize cannabis products in more conventional ways will help uplift the sector and create the necessary level of legitimacy for further progress for us all.”

Bakin’ Bad says: “We believe that progress is a process and any movement in the direction of making cannabis available for all Americans is a step in the right direction.”

Simply Pure NJ Dispensary says: “As the CEO of Simply Pure NJ, I fully support the reclassification of cannabis to Schedule III. This change would be a significant benefit to businesses by providing relief from Section 280E of the tax code, which currently penalizes cannabis companies. It would also recognize the medicinal value of cannabis, enabling greater research opportunities. This is a crucial step toward the ultimate goal of full descheduling, fostering a more inclusive and equitable marketplace.”

AC Leef Dispensary says: “Reclassification has its benefits and we support the progress for things like getting funding for research and business taxes, but in the big picture, it doesn’t do much else. It doesn’t help the smaller guys. Reclassification isn’t making the plant legal; it will still be illegal.”

Veronica “Vee” Castillo is known as the Traveling Cannabis Writer. She is a published writer, connector, traveler, and a member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association Board of Directors. 

Her body of work, which includes over 200 published articles in 15  publications, covers all things and people in cannabis/ hemp/ and overall plant medicines. She can be found in both digital and print where she provides cannabis industry and community insights from her 6 year journey around the country. 

She specializes in bringing to light the hidden gems in the plant space and beyond. You can follow her journey on Instagram: @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and/or LinkedIn: @Traveling Cannabis Writer.