In the hinterlands of central Massachusetts, Seun Adedeji works the crowd with an evangelist’s flair. “We’re here to get you guys medicated and elevated,” he says. At his store’s grand opening this month, he and his customers—some in khakis and leaning on canes, others in psychedelic T-shirts and ripped jeans—greet each other with pandemic-friendly elbow bumps.
Adedeji is a cannabis entrepreneur. In his skinny suit, T-shirt, and wing tips with no socks, he looks the part. His shop, not so much. It’s a low-slung brick building that used to be a gas station in the former mill town of Athol, population 12,000. It still could be mistaken for one, except for the bright green marijuana leaf balloons hanging from the ceiling, the pre-rolled joints under the counter, and the rainbow of artisanal glass pipes on top.
As a 27-year-old Nigerian immigrant with only a high school diploma, Adedeji had to start small. He’s a rarity in the $16 billion-a-year U.S. legal marijuana business: a dispensary owner who is Black.
His company’s name, Elev8 Cannabis, has a double meaning. It’s about getting high, of course, but also alludes to the legalization movement’s social equity mission. Advocates call for government support of Black-owned cannabis companies to reverse the devastating toll of the war on drugs and mass incarceration on minority communities. At age 13, Adedeji himself was arrested for selling pot. [Read More @ Bloomberg]