Nigerian-born Seun Adedeji is the founder and CEO of the Elev8cannabis brand, making him the youngest black man to own a cannabis dispensary in America.
The legalization of cannabis in the U.S. has created a multibillion-dollar industry. Following the legalization of cannabis in the 30 states for recreational or medical use, it has been predicted that the industry will be worth more than $43 billion within a decade.
With more than 20,000 businesses and 165,000 employees, African Americans are at the risk of losing out.
Currently, the legal weed business in the U.S. is an $11 billion industry, but less than a fifth of marijuana business owners identify as racial minorities, including the 4.3 percent who are black.
The road to becoming the youngest black man in America to own a pot dispensary hasn’t been easy for Adedeji. He opened his first shop in Eugene, Oregon, at the age of 23.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life; I was uncomfortable, but that discomfort leads to my personal and spiritual growth,” Adedeji told VoyageDallas.
An immigrant who moved to the U.S. at the tender age of three and DAC Act Dreamer, Adedeji grew up on the Southside of Chicago, spending his teen years in Texas.
Adedeji was 21 when he began flirting with the idea of becoming a potpreneur, but didn’t believe he could, stagnating his vision in the process by convincing himself that he “didn’t have enough capital.”
Bent on venturing into the multibillion-dollar legal cannabis industry, Adedeji moved to Oregon in 2016 to actualize his ideas. He was with only $50,000, a collection of his personal savings and investments from longtime friends, he told Merry Jane.
Adedeji was on a mission, a mission to become one of the first African Americans to own and operate a retail cannabis dispensary.
He was just 23 in 2017 when he founded Elev8cannabis with its first pot shop opened in Eugene.
Adedeji told VoyageDallas: “I started reading more about emerging markets and the cannabis industry kept popping up. My goal has always been to create generational wealth for my family, so I saw the cannabis industry as a great way to do just that. Whites own 80% of cannabis business, African Americans are 4x more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though we consume cannabis at a lower average rate than whites.”
“In the legal, booming cannabis industry right now, there is less than 1% of African Americas that own a cannabis business. Statistics show that African Americans own only 4.3% of business in the marijuana industry, when you dive into that statistic it means the majority of African-Americans involved in the cannabis industry do not control their shares, their business, and they are sharing control of their company resulting in only 1% of African-Americans truly owning their business,” he added.
Adedeji was a brilliant kid, but grew up in a lousy environment, leading him to make a couple of bad decisions when he was younger. He sold candy and gum in school, developing his entrepreneurial abilities in the process.
“Because of my family structure, which wasn’t whole, I had a different mindset about life. I thought that you had to figure out life by yourself, through any means necessary. I saw a lot of poverty, hatred, backstabbing, and people telling me their version of what’s right and how to be successful without any track record proving how their own advice had benefited them,” said Adedeji.
According to him, if one wants to be great, he or she should find someone that’s great and make them his or her mentor.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result. As an African- American man, I see what systemic oppression has done to the growth of my people, and I am here to help us in any way I can. I will advocate for more Black and Latino involvement in the cannabis industry and demonstrate that we are much more than our circumstances.,” he said.