Brooklyn Dispensary, Notorious B.I.G. Mural Causes Stir

The Emerald Dispensary in Brooklyn was forced to paint over a mural due to New York’s ad and signage restrictions.

A Brooklyn, New York dispensary moved into the premises of a former church with a wall that depicted iconic rapper Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls or by his real name, Christopher Wallace. But due to strict New York rules on cannabis advertising, the dispensary was forced to paint over the mural, and local residents aren’t thrilled about the decision to paint over Brooklyn’s biggest hero.

The tribute to Biggie was painted by Huetek, featuring the artist as a baby with the name “Brooklyn” painted beside it. Huetek is a graphic designer, illustrator, and musician, and his pieces can be found throughout New York City.

“Let me remind ya what this represented…,” Huetek wrote on Instagram. “This wall here was created with one thing in mind … to salute…uplift…all creative souls who walk this earth…we the artist we the creators…we the people……who bring life to this world thru our creativity..and our passion…’destined for greatness’….was a love letter to all …starting from brooklyn …….to look beyond the obstacles and reach [your] goals….to fight for what [you] believe and love ….”

While Notorious B.I.G,. is highly respected in his hometown, the decision to remove the mural wasn’t up to the dispensary team. “We didn’t want to take it down,” The Emerald Dispensary co-founder Christina De Giovanni told The New York Post. The Emerald Dispensary is a minority-owned, social equity license holder.

De Giovanni said the mural was painted on the exterior wall of 85 Suydam St. for about three years before the dispensary moved into the space, which had previously been a church called House of Pray.

The state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which regulates the sale of adult-use cannabis in New York, warned them that letting the mural remain in place could jeopardize the store’s opening which required an inspection from state officials.

“[The state compliance officer] said, ‘if the inspector sees it and says no, you’re going to have to delay your opening,’” De Giovanni said.

Emerald co-founders De Giovanni and Ray Ramon Roman began the dispensary licensing process in 2022, and were forced to paint over the mural after learning that it had to go. 

De Giovanni said she insisted it be covered in removable anti-graffiti paint in the hopes it could one day be displayed again.

“It was so hard,” she said. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done … it’s really unfortunate that we haven’t had the opportunity to get an honest start before getting backlash for something that wasn’t our decision.”

OCM regulations on cannabis retail locations prohibit dispensary signage from displaying anything other than the needed information to provide location and so on.

Per the state’s Cannabis Control Board and written into the rules under the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, the following restrictions apply to cannabis retail stores in New York.

“Only licensees authorized to conduct retail sales or delivery to consumers may advertise outdoors using signs provided such signs,” the OCM states  Only is the advertisements  “(1) are for the purpose of alerting individuals to the location of a retail dispensary authorized to sell cannabis products to consumers; (2) are limited to, at a maximum, the following information: (i) licensee’s name, entity name, or doing business as name; (ii) dispensary address, phone number, email address, and website URL; and 34 (iii) the nature of the business; (3) are affixed to a building or permanent structure; (4) are not on vehicles; and (5) do not total more than two in number per licensed premises.

Notorious B.I.G.’s Impact in Brooklyn

There are many reasons why Brooklyn residents feel a certain way about 

By the time Notorious B.I.G. was done, he had it all: three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 (some posthumously), two No.1 Billboard Hot 100 songs, and numerous other achievements. He was considered Brooklyn’s pride, the East Coast’s finest, and during that time period, only Tupac Shakur came close in terms of success as a solo artist in the rap industry.

Black Cannabis Magazine notes that the son of Notorious B.I.G. launched two cannabis brands recently: Frank White and Think BIG. Frank White is named after one of Wallace’s aliases, a premium cannabis brand that offers a range of products, including pre-rolls, flower, and concentrates. Think BIG, on the other hand, is a social justice-focused cannabis brand with an emphasis on helping those who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

Other Brooklyn murals of Notorious B.I.G. were flashpoints when they were being taken down.

In 2017, a two-story mural depicting The Notorious B.I.G. on the side of a building on Bedford Avenue and Quincy was scheduled to be taken down. The artwork titled “King of NY” was painted by the artists Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui and Scott “Zimer” Zimmerman and has attracted crowds since it went up in 2015. 

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