CCC suspends retail business at Elev8 Cannabis in Athol

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 03-30-2023 6:46 PM

ATHOL — The state Cannabis Control Commission has suspended all retail activities at Elev8 Cannabis after a number of incidents in which the pot shop’s owner, Seun Adedeji, allegedly posed a threat to public safety.

According to a report issued by the commission and posted to its website, the agency issued the licensee a Summary Suspension Order on March 24. The order took effect March 25, at midnight, and required the immediate cessation of operations associated with Elev8’s Athol location and provisional licenses in Williamstown and Orange. Adedeji can request a hearing within 21 days following the date it took effect. Adedeji did not respond to a request for comment.

“This licensee has been under commission investigation, and Massachusetts regulations enable the agency to take additional action, including but not limited to the issuance of fines, orders that require the business to cease or suspend operations, and license revocation,” the commission wrote in a statement.

In October 2022, Adedeji was placed under arrest for charges of wanton and lascivious conduct, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, open and gross lewdness, and disturbing the peace, according to documents from Orange District Court. In late January, the last three charges were dismissed at the state’s request.

On March 20, a warrant was issued after Adedeji failed to make a court appearance on March 17, and he was placed under arrest by Athol Police on March 23, according to court records. On March 24, Attorney Aliki Recklitis of the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Public Defender Division requested an evaluation to determine if Adedeji is competent to stand trial, which was granted by the judge. According to court records, he is being held for the evaluation and is scheduled to return to court on April 14.

Reached via email, the Committee for Public Counsel Services declined to comment on the ongoing case.

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In its statement, the commission stated that it deferred to law enforcement authorities to handle any criminal matters, and it is unclear whether this played a role in the commission’s decision to suspend operations.

CCC investigation

Elev8 opened in the fall of 2020 following a nearly three-year approval process from the town and state. At that time, Adedeji had secured locations in Orange and Williamstown as well. His first cannabis store was in Eugene, Oregon, which he opened at the age of 23.

According to the suspension order, on Feb. 8, Elev8 submitted a renewal application for its final license, which would expire on April 10. On Feb. 13, the commission’s licensing staff sent a Request For Information (RFI), followed by a second RFI and a third, none of which received a response. On Feb. 17, the commission issued a Notice of Intent to Limit Sales of Marijuana and Marijuana Products to Elev8 due to substantial noncompliance with commission laws.

The commission identified 10 substantial violations of regulations and mandated corrective action be taken by March 9. The issues included some staff members lacking mandatory training. Around Feb. 17, Adedeji responded by dismissing those employees and promoting one of his staff to serve as interim CEO. This person was terminated on March 14, and on that same day, all staff and managers at his Oregon store resigned in protest, the order stated. On March 22, Adedeji informed the commission’s enforcement staff that the Athol store had closed and was fully compliant with CCC regulations.

“Temporarily closed,” Adedeji wrote to the commission. “Business decision as we charter blue ocean [wave emoji].”

On March 23, Adedeji posted a video to his Instagram account, saying that the store was in fact open and he was running it alone, according to the commission’s report.

“Mr. Adedeji’s invitation to the public and announcement on social media that he was alone at the Athol store posed a public safety risk because a single individual cannot adequately secure a marijuana establishment against potential theft or diversion,” the suspension order read. “Respondent, through Mr. Adedeji’s recklessness, poses an immediate or serious threat to the public safety and welfare.”

In the five-minute video, he is seen standing outside Elev8 wearing shorts and no shirt. After announcing that the business is open, he launches into an angry, profanity-laden speech in which he threatens former employees and their families who cause problems for the business or walk onto the property without his permission.

“By threatening to commit acts of violence against anyone who Mr. Adedeji perceives as interfering with his business, Respondent, through the acts of Mr. Adedeji, poses an immediate or serious threat to the public safety and welfare,” the commission’s report continues.

In addition to the suspension of operations, a number of staff associated with the company have also been suspended. Adedeji is the only person allowed to access the premises, and can only do so with the commission’s authorization.

The order requires Elev8 to cooperate with the commission as necessary for enforcement staff to conduct a security assessment to ensure the continued maintenance of its products. Elev8 is required to maintain its security vendor for the duration of the order and ensure that all surveillance footage is retained and accessible until otherwise notified.

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