Seun Adedeji is the epitome of a self-made businessman who created his own opportunities. At three-years-old, Adedeji migrated from Nigeria to the Southside of Chicago and later to the state of Texas, where he spent his teenage years. Now, Adedeji is the youngest Black man to own a cannabis dispensary in America.
Although the use of medical and recreational use of cannabis is legal in select American states, there is yet another barrier for Black people who desire to enter into the cannabis business — discrimination.
According to the ACLU, Black people in America are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than any other racial group. When it comes to entering the industry, Black entrepreneurs only make up 4.3 percent of cannabis business owners, Marijuana Business Daily reports.
The disproportional percentages can be attributed to discriminatory practices regarding securing necessary licenses and permits.
“I was rejected for a retail cannabis license for two years until a lady took a chance on me and allowed me to lease her building. Once I finally secured my Elev8 Cannabis location in Eugene, OR it took me another six months to go through the licensing process,” Adedeji told Merry Jane.
As CEO, of Elev8 Cannabis, Adedeji created an all-Black executive team despite being advised not to.
“I was told having an all-Black executive team was a bad idea, due to us meeting mayors, town managers, and people with authority. They might question our professionalism or our experience as business owners. I made the decision to create an all-Black executive team anyways, and since that day I haven’t looked back,” he told Merry Jane.
Recently Adedeji added Seke Ballard, Harvard Business School graduate, and CEO of Good Tree Capital, the largest Black-owned investment firm in the cannabis industry, as COO/CFO of Elev8 cannabis.
Adedeji has his sights set high and plans to continue to scale Elev8 Cannabis to new heights in the future.
“Our goal is to eventually be fully vertically integrated in Massachusetts. Right now we’re purchasing 4-5 acres of land where we’re going to build a greenhouse,” he said. “We’re also looking at expanding to Michigan and Maine. We have the experience and now we have the capital. I believe Elev8 Cannabis is going to be a household name. I don’t think there’s anything that can stop us at this point other than ourselves. Our goal by the end of 2019 is to have nine Elev8 Cannabis retail shops up and running and to keep growing and expanding every year.”