According to an industry trade publication, 73 percent of cannabis executives in Colorado and Washington are male, 81 percent are White.
Seun Adedeji, the founder and CEO of the Elev8cannabis brand, is a 25-years-old business man that pulled himself up by the bootstraps. He is the youngest Black man in America to own a retail cannabis dispensary.
A Nigerian immigrant and DACA Act recipient who moved to the U.S. when he was 3-years-old, Adedeji is a truly self-made businessman who embodied the American dream. He grew up on the Southside of Chicago, before moving to Texas as a teenager to finish his schooling.
Soon after he would proceed to move to Washington State and shortly after he joined Corporate America managing nine Sprint stores in Washington, as you may expect he was making great money, but he wanted to enter the cannabis industry due to concern of how consumers were being treated.
Without the cash on hand to quit his job and make a hefty investment in a new (and precarious) industry, Adedeji created a plan with a lofty end goal. He then moved to Oregon in 2016, and with only $50,000 to his name a combination of Adedeji’s entire personal savings along with a few investments from long-time friends; he set out on a mission to become one of the first African-Americans to own and operate a retail cannabis dispensary.
In 2017, he accomplished his goal and Elev8cannabis opened its first cannabis shop in Eugene, Oregon. He was just 23 years old. The brand is drastically expanding and has made its debut on the East Coast with the opening of Elev8cannabis in Athol, Massachusetts this spring. Soon after the Athol location is up and running to moderate capacity, we know at least two more Elev8cannabis retail dispensaries are expected to open up in the city of Orange and Williamstown by the end of 2019.
Adedeji signed a multi-million dollar expansion deal with TILT holdings earlier this year, which will support the growth of his company while also helping him create an incubator program that mentors people of color who are interested in opening their own canna-businesses.
I recently interviewed the young cannabis owner. Check out the interview below.
Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations?
Everyday people inspire me by just learning their stories and also my father.
What did you realize you had a passion to be a business man?
At an early age I was the kid selling candy in high school. I knew I was destined for business, but just didn’t know what type of business.
What influenced you to start your own weed dispensary?
I saw there was a lack of people caring for the customers and more about people wanting the profit and just focusing on the money. My intentions are to make money, but I want the people to feel appreciated and apart of a community handled with care; not just another number being sold a product.
You’re the youngest Black man in America to own a dispensary. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel like I have a lot more work to do to get more minorities involved in the cannabis industry. It is a honor but I don’t let that get to me. It’s a lot of responsibility. We’re under represented.
With the Country having legislation vote on Nationwide legalization on marijuana, how will this impact your business?
I would say it really wouldn’t impact it because Nationwide, like in Canada, would make it more robust. It would draw people that feel uncomfortable with it, but also draw the big companies.
What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer to our readers and entrepreneurs?
Let your light shine as people. We should do more executing and less talking. We are blank pages and we write our own stories.