Notorious B.I.G. mural in Brooklyn restored after cannabis store was forced to paint over it

Emerald Dispensary owners say they covered the mural to comply with regulations

Darla Miles Image
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Mural of Biggie Smalls restored
After public outcry, the New York Office of Cannabis Management has decided to reverse its decision to take down the mural.

BUSHWICK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The owners of a new cannabis dispensary in Brooklyn were caught in a dilemma after painting over a beloved mural of rap legend The Notorious B.I.G., sparking outrage from the community.

In New York City, getting a cannabis license is hard enough as it is.

"This was not on our radar, and we tried, we did not want to cover this up at all," said Christina de Giovanni, CEO of Emerald Dispensary. "We love this mural from the minute we moved into this building, and we had artwork done on the front of the building and along the side, we all agreed we're not touching this big mural. We love this. This stays."

Initially, it didn't quite work out that way. The iconic childhood mural of Biggie, that went up three years ago in Bushwick where the Emerald Dispensary is now open for business, was covered up with black removable graffiti before it opened its doors last week.

"We were following the regulations," Giovanni said. "We had a state inspection a couple weeks ago, and so prior to that, we had been speaking to a compliance officer and we were aware of the regulations in regards to exterior artwork. And so, we covered it up because we thought that we were in compliance. We thought that that is what needed to happen to be in compliance."

It was in compliance with the Office of Cannabis Management, but Brooklyn wasn't having it.

"No, there's a lot of passionate people here," Giovanni said. "A lot of people would walk by and would just question, what are you doing? Why is this happening? You know, this has been here for a few years, why are you covering it up? And we would explain the situation to them. And, you know, they would understand, but they would still be disappointed."

There were passersby who asked about the mural, but there was also so much outrage the dispensary received dozens of death threats.

One Instagram post said, "300 writers coming for that wall y'all painted over! Can't diss my bro @huetek and get away with it."

"This is a dream come true. This shows you everybody from the streets. Everybody in the streets. Your dreams can come true," said Ramon Roman, co-owner of Emerald Dispensary. "Actually, I was doing this illegally for all my life, you know, not to be able to do it legally. It's amazing. It's a dream come true."

The dream is still alive for the dispensary owners, saying they got word from OCM last week that the mural could stay, after so much public outcry.

"I mean, I'm so happy," Roman said. "I'm just happy that we were able to get this, you know, over with."


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