Editors Note: This is the last article in a month-long series celebrating Black History Month. (We know that ended yesterday, but we didn’t want this wonderful story to get lost over the weekend.)
In the 1980s, African Americans were arrested for drug offenses at a rate 10 times higher than their white counterparts. And while there has been some improvement since then, African Americans are still nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.
Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, and that makes it difficult for people to trust their local dispensary.
Karim Mayfield was a world champion boxer who turned his passion into a career as a cannabis entrepreneur. He knows first-hand how hard it can be to find trustworthy information on your products and services, which is why he’s dedicated his life to creating an environment where you can buy with confidence.
War on drugs hit the African American community hardest. Karim Mayfield was first arrested at 18 as a result of a cannabis charge that threatened to derail Karim’s life.
While living in San Francisco’s historic Black neighborhood, the Fillmore, Karim was suddenly chained to an arrest record. This seemingly ordinary occurrence made getting a job nearly impossible.
Karim Mayfield had a chance visit to the gym which led to his boxing career, which would eventually lead him to become a Golden Gloves and NABO junior welterweight champion.
Now Karim Mayfield, an African American entrepreneur, owns his own cannabis dispensary in San Francisco.
California voters passed Proposition 64 which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21 years old. However, there are still restrictions on who can own and operate a cannabis business within the state.
The current system has led to an environment where only those with access to capital have been able to enter into this industry—leaving most people from communities that were historically targeted by drug laws behind in terms of creating wealth through legal means.
Karim has always been a cannabis enthusiast, but for him, it was more of a hobby.
The opportunity to own his own dispensary came through the San Francisco Cannabis Equity Program, which seeks to create prosperity and secure ownership in the cannabis industry for those hardest hit by the War on Drugs—primarily low-income residents who live in neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement efforts and individuals convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses.
Karim Mayfield is also the owner of SoulChamp, a boxing gym dedicated to providing the kind of youth mentorship that helped turn his own life around. He has joined a new generation of professional athletes who incorporate ca into their training and wellness regimens.
After many states recently voted to repeal cannabis restrictions, all against the backdrop of the nation confronting an ongoing reckoning for social justice, Karim’s store opening was an especially poignant milestone.
An up-close and personal reckoning hits Mayfield’s life and family as they continue to fight for justice for his unarmed brother who was shot by BART police in Oakland.
“The store is called Authentic 415 because I’m authentically 415, and being authentic means giving back to the city and the people who raised me.” Karim Mayfield stated.
“I’ll use my new position as CEO of a cannabis business to help people be safer by giving them a trusted place to purchase a product that’s finally being recognized for its benefits. On a more personal level, I’ll also serve my community by continuing the fight for social and racial justice in memory of my brother.”
Authentic 415’s first day of operation was January 23, 2021.
The store carries a curated collection of cannabis products including Elyon, Ball, Family Farms, STIIIZY, and more.
While the cannabis industry is poised to create billions of dollars over the next 30 years, Karim Mayfield plans to take part in this historic journey, with his feet on the ground ready to continue the fight for social justice while serving the community.
Prissilla Ramsey shares the byline for this story with John Ramsey.