To understand the significance of “The Green Rush”, read about Seun Adedeji and his humble journey to the top of the cannabis industry.
Seun Adedeji (26), the youngest Black Man to own a dispensary in America, found his true light when he was able to experience unconditional love, and he is using his dispensary chain, Elev8 Cannabis, to create a space for love in the cannabis industry. Adedeji is using cannabis to give us the good feels we need to keep moving on up.
As a Black Man who once sold cannabis to lessen the financial burden on his family, Adedeji is Black America’s working manifestation of freedom. Since the beginning of this time, Black Americans have danced a strange dance with life with most of us being deemed failures from birth due to generational trauma.
Interviewing Adedeji proved to be a reminder for me that “The Green Rush” is one of the most important events to happen in America.
Though many parts of the country are slow to legalize and many Black Americans are still in spiritual, mental, and physical prison, Adedeji and the many Black cannabis activists, advocates, business owners, lawyers, doctors, and growers represent the balance that “The Green Rush” promises to give our world.
To learn more about Adedeji, his relationship with cannabis, and his contribution to the cannabis industry, just keep reading.
LW: Tell me about your upbringing.
SA: I grew up in poverty in the South Side of Chicago, without a stable family structure–my dad was often not home because he was a truck driver. As a result, I had a different mindset about life. I felt that I had to figure out life by myself, through any means necessary. My Dad tried his best to provide for me and my siblings but after a near fatal accident , I was the kid selling candy and gum in school, which was my first entrepreneurial experience, just to make sure my parents didn’t worry about me. They already had enough on their plates.
I saw a lot of poverty, hatred, backstabbing, and toxicity.
Life changed for me when my aunt invited me to live with her and go to a suburban high school in Dallas. She showed me what unconditional love looked like. And I want to share the love she gave me, at my lowest point in life, with the wider world. Elev8 is giving me the platform to do that. We believe that just a little love and kindness can inspire our customers, nurture local communities, and change the world. We may sell cannabis, but our mission and purpose runs much deeper. Love changed me and enabled my success, and I want to share that with everyone, regardless of their race or gender. As an African-American man, I know what it means to feel systemically oppressed, but I want to show every person that we can define ourselves and become more than our circumstances.
LW: When was the first time you got high?
SA: By seventh grade, I had moved on from selling candy to selling weed to provide for my family. However, like Biggie Smalls advocated for in his Ten Crack Commandments, I never got high off of my own supply. One day, I was in the car with my older brother, Isaac, and his friends. They rolled up a couple of joints, and they asked me if I had ever smoked. I lied and said yes, because I didn’t want to look weak. They passed me the blunt, and I remember inhaling it and coughing uncontrollably. I couldn’t breathe. Everyone in the car started laughing.
LW: How does your family feel about you working in the cannabis industry?
SA: My family members are devout Christians. At first, it was hard for my mom to understand because of her religious background. But after educating her on the plant and the industry, she has become my biggest supporter.
LW: How has your relationship with cannabis evolved since you started working in the industry?
SA: I am a true believer in cannabis’ medicinal value. Over the years, my relationship with the plant has evolved from just smoking to get high, to being deliberate in how I want to experience its benefits. I use cannabis to improve my quality of sleep, as well as to help me focus and problem-solve.
LW: Do you think cannabis has the power to transform the lives of African-Americans? If so, then how?
SA: Cannabis is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for African Americans to generate wealth. I believe that if we work together, it can benefit our communities immensely.
LW: Tell me about the support you received from the African-American community when you decided to open your first dispensary.
SA: I got a lot of support from local African-American business owners. Just to name a few: Roz Macarthy from M4MM has consistently provided resources for us. We were featured in Purposely Awakened, a minority-owned magazine, and their owner would consistently send me PR opportunities. Nicole Callier, a reporter, wrote the first article to feature Elev8, and she has always been very supportive. She wants to get Elev8 out to the masses by talking about different initiatives that we are taking both inside and outside the cannabis community. I have also noticed that African-Americans are more enthusiastic about supporting our dispensary once they discover that it is black-owned.
LW: How did you raise capital for your first dispensary?
SA: I used $30k of my own savings. I raised the remainder by asking friends and family. To make them feel more comfortable, I showed them that I had already used my own money to secure property and a license. Once it became clear that all I needed was working capital, they were willing to pitch in.
LW: How have you worked through the obstacles you’ve experienced being a Black dispensary owner?
SA: Understanding that I can’t do it all by myself and finding people that complement and support me is pivotal to making Elev8’s journey a success. That’s a principle that I apply to all areas of my life, not just business.
LW: Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?
SA: I see Elev8 Cannabis growing rapidly and being everywhere where cannabis is legal. Our message of “Treat Everyone Like Gold” resonates deeply with people, and it’s why our customers are some of the most devoted in the industry. Some folks will drive over 3 hours just to shop at Elev8, even though there are closer dispensaries available. With our brand licensing program in place, we have the means to support more minority entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial dreams and bring Elev8 to more people.
To learn more about Seun Adedeji and Elev8 Cannabis, check out their website!
Lyneisha Watson is a Cannabis Journalist focused on understanding the people who use the cannabis plant.