“Let me say something, we're an open book.”
This is the ideal energy you’d want the subject (or in this case, subjects) of any interview to have, especially when the subject is CJ Wallace, the son of The Notorious B.I.G. who has freshly launched his own cannabis brand, Think BIG. Along with seasoned entrepreneur Willie Mack and his stepfather, music executive Todd Russaw, Biggie’s only son is building off of his father’s legacy but doing so by creating his own lane.
BET was fortunate to sit down with the founders of Think BIG ahead of what would have been B.I.G.’s 47th birthday to chop it up about all things cannabis related, and just as they stated from the jump, the guys didn’t hold anything back, including a ploy to convince CJ’s grandmother Voletta Wallace to try some weed.
First things first, let’s talk strains. Think BIG’s initial launch product is impeccably packaged pre-rolls in a decorative cigar box named Frank White, a nod to one of Biggie’s many aliases. Not only does the combination of aesthetics and history give this product some advantage in the already saturated market, but it’s also is a product that seeks to serve its purpose. The pre-rolls consist of a blend of three strains of marijuana: Orange Sherbet, Banjo, and Rattlesnake Sour Diesel from Lowell Farm’s signature sun-grown California cannabis. “One of [the strains] is a hybrid. So you're not too tired or too upbeat. It's like right in the middle. Great for creative people who want to be in the studio and not want to go to sleep immediately. You know what I mean?” CJ explains.
“It definitely inspires creativity. Gets you off the couch. And definitely gets you more talkative. Just makes you want to share and come up with new ideas.”
Creativity is part of the bigger picture and is the reason the Think BIG co-founders consider it a lifestyle brand and not one solely focused on the cannabis plant itself. In fact, CJ’s sitting across the table wearing a Frank White hoodie, the perfect street-wear complement for his visit to the Big Apple.
“Since I started really acting and taking my music more seriously, people were always like, ‘Well, what are you going to do? Acting or music?’ And I've always answered that, like, 'I can't choose one!’ So with this I want to involve as many lanes, fashion, cannabis and so much more. It's really a complete lifestyle [collaboration]. Ultimately, making Think BIG the storyteller. We want to create new ways of advocating for cannabis as use for creativity, for contemplation, but also for criminal and social justice.”
“Because of the heritage and legacy we stand on, for us it's bigger than just cannabis and always is bigger than just fashion and music. It's like how do we tell new stories about who his dad was, and also how do we inspire more people to get involved?” Willie chimes in.
It’s assuring to hear that when thinking big business, that putting money back into the communities where it should be is at the forefront of the minds of this group of Black men.
Willie continues, “The war on drugs has taken away generations of our people. We’ve got to create to build on that. We need to build the wealth that we've lost and give wealth back. Otherwise you're making cash in neighborhoods that already do that.”
In this sense, they have thought of the bigger picture. Ten percent of the proceeds from sales are donated to the Prison Arts Project, which helps bring creativity and the arts in all forms into the prisons so that when folks are released from incarceration, they have some skill set that can be used in the workforce. The guys are also members of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, which has been a leader in helping to pass sensible laws for legalization and support research in the science around the effects of marijuana usage. And they’re all about the research.
CJ hints to look out for more from Think BIG this fall but promises they have a lot of big ideas, like the ever so-popular CBD products, edibles that balance flavor and potency, and a potential weight-loss weed that would certainly give tummy teas a run for their money. “There's a compound, I want to say CBG. It's mostly really good for weight loss and appetite suppression, which is crazy,” Willie notes. Yes — weight-loss weed!
“Like people always ask me, like, ‘How did you lose all this weight?’ I'm like, ‘I started smoking crazy.’ Weed helps control my appetite and eat smaller portions. Sometimes I just forget to eat just cause I be high,” says CJ.
“I guess just the stigma of getting the munchies is so prevalent. It's like certain strains do certain things to our body, and we just don't know. And also we are in California where like it is the best weed, yeah, we have so much variety. That's such a part of our way of life there going to the dispensary.
You're like, I want something to help me sleep, but I also want something that’s going to help me work out and I want something for my post workout recovery. There’s a girl who might want something to help her with her PMS and a mom who wants something to help her with arthritis. So having that variety, and knowing there’s a company that is actually looking to solve those problems, I think is the biggest difference between, you know, the new East Coast, West Coast for you.”
And since Think BIG believes there’s a weed out there for everyone, CJ has made it his personal mission to find ways for it to benefit his biggest supporters—his family. It’s the man who raised him, Todd, who actually suggested he get into the cannabis business in the first place.
“He saw how I use it every day to get into character with acting and with my youngest brother and his autism. It's always been on our mind just to get a product for writers specifically and kids with autism and my grandma, as well. I've always wanted to eventually get her to use cannabis products so she can, you know, put down the pharmaceuticals and get with the natural wave, because it's just healthier at the end of the day. I know it and I see the facts… I'd love for her to take a chance, just one try. [laughs]”