Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Seun Adedeji was 3 years old when he migrated to Chicago to live with his dad and stepmom, four siblings, two cousins and a stepbrother. “It was not a wholesome home,” he says. “Our stepmom was verbally abusive, and dad was a truck driver, away on the road.”
The family suffered financial hardship, and young Adedeji had to hustle. “I sold candy in school,” he says. “I was the candy man. I upgraded to cannabis in middle school and got arrested at age 13 for possession.” Known as a respectful student and a tough fighter who helped kids being bullied, he was offered a choice: get kicked out of school or take up wrestling. He chose wrestling, won first in league and second in state.
Adedeji moved to Arlington, Texas, for high school and lived with his dad’s sister. “My auntie was the first woman who showed me unconditional love,” he says. “I made a fresh start.” He joined the Future Business Leaders of America club at school and continued to wrestle, winning a state championship. As an undocumented immigrant, he was protected by DACA but couldn’t get a scholarship for college, so he moved to Spokane, Washington, and found work as a sales associate with Sprint phones. “I did well,” he says, “got promoted to manager, then to marketing manager.”
When he turned 21 and considered opening a cannabis dispensary, Adedeji found that Washington had reached its limit on licenses. “That’s how I pivoted to Oregon, where there is no limit,” he says, and two years later, in 2017, he opened Elev8 Cannabis in west Eugene. “Local farmers came together to support me, and I bought on consignment.” But a saturated market and the store’s remote location caused him to close its doors in 2018, and he traveled to eastern states where cannabis had been recently legalized. “I hired a top attorney and lobbied to win three licenses in three cities in Massachusetts,” he notes, “and I lobbied for more minority seats at the table in Illinois.”
In May of this year, back in Eugene, he reopened Elev8 Cannabis at 1409 Oak Street, a more convenient downtown location. “Our motto is: Treat everyone like gold,” he says. “I want to pour the love my auntie showed me into my community and customers.”
On June 11, the Elev8 Dispensary was broken into, and $8,000 of marijuana was stolen. Two white men were seen on security cameras. Insurance is not available for this kind of business.