(Digital art by Greg Dubois)
The Nigerian-born, Chicago- and Texas-raised entrepreneur might be the youngest O.G. you’ve ever seen.
In just eight years, Seun Adedeji, the 25-year-old CEO of Elev8 cannabis turned $50,000 into a multimillion-dollar dispensary empire with budding locations in Oregon (Eugene), Massachusetts (Athol, Orange, Williamstown), and Illinois.
He’s the youngest African American man to own a cannabis dispensary in the US, and he’s also a fierce advocate for equity in the industry’s ownership ranks. His hustle recently helped Elev8 secure a multimillion-dollar finance deal with TILT Holdings, to go along with a handful of new dispensary licenses across the nation.
Leafly asked the cannabis kingpin about betting on himself and leaving a legacy of Black billionaires behind him.
How is the pandemic affecting the cannabis industry, which was already experiencing a gold rush before COVID-19?
I think cannabis legalization on a federal level will happen sooner than if COVID didn’t happen. A lot of states’ tax revenue is hurting, so they’re going to need a way to replace those lost businesses. And they need to provide jobs for people.
COVID-19 pushed cannabis forward when it became an essential business, and it shows people’s views are changing. Cannabis use has increased more than ever before, too.
In the gold rush, a lot of money was made on the jeans and shovels that people had to buy to dig for gold. What kind of ancillary products are killing the cannabis game right now?
Bongs, pens, different things like that, they’re winning because they don’t have to yield to the heavy taxation. Rolling papers, too. They’re the shovel of our time in this gold rush. They’re not restricted to just one city or one state. They have e-commerce that can deal internationally, so their scalability is a lot greater.