Taylor Bazley is the co-founder and CEO of Green Kween. In the past, Bazley has worked for the L.A. City Council as well as been involved with LGBT organizations such as Equality California and the Stonewall Democratic Club in Los Angeles. Before sitting on the panel for the Zócalo program “What Do We Want From the Next L.A. Mayor?” in May 2022, he joined us in our green room to talk cannabis, city politics, and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
You’re the CEO and co-founder of the cannabis dispensary and social enterprise Green Kween. What is the significance of the name?
It’s an ode to LGBT culture. Obviously green is overly used in cannabis—everyone knows the signal there—and “kween” is a wink and a nod to the LGBT community, which is what our whole business is oriented by.
What was the biggest challenge to get it up and running?
For any retailer, it’s the licensing process. Licenses in the state of California are purposefully held way below what the market forces would otherwise allow. So to get one of these licenses is arduous. And if you are able to get one, the market value is anywhere from $4 million to $20 million, if you want to buy one new. We applied to the city council; it took us a year and a half to even be heard. And that entire time we had the whole property; and cannabis property isn’t cheap. So it’s a combination of licensing, and what the licensing forces you to do—raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold property for an outcome you’re uncertain about. In fact, there were 39 other groups that tried to get a license in downtown at the same time as us. Most of them actually started the process earlier and held property longer, and we were the only one to get it.
For me, personally, cannabis fits my skills well. I come from the political world. I got my MBA and was leaning into moving into the business sector. Cannabis is one of those unique fields where there can be fortunes won or lost based on how the government interacts with you.
What did you do in the political world?
I worked for the L.A. City Council for three and a half years. I was also really involved in local politics. I was a three-term delegate to the California Democratic Party, an advisory board member of Equality California, a board member and vice president of Stonewall Democratic Club.
What’s your favorite place to go in downtown L.A.?
The Last Bookstore. I like to just wander around there, especially if I can get there when it’s raining. Can’t beat a bookstore on a rainy day.
What's some good advice that you’ve received?
Don’t pay people until the work is already done.
What’s something that’s surprised you lately?
That’s harder than it sounds, because one thing I’m really proud of is I have a good ability to understand perspectives even if I don’t agree with them. So I’m not that surprised about things in the political fray. People get really angry and think, how could the other side think this or do that? If you understand their incentive structure, it all makes sense. So I don’t have a good answer. But what surprised, shocked, and disturbed me: that Shea Cooley got “platinum plungered” in the last episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It was unfair, it should not have happened to her!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
The ability to go through time. While this is the time and place I would want to live in our species’ history, it’d be really interesting to be a tourist in some of those other time periods. And I’m also interested in how this all turns out.
Who is your dream dinner guest—dead or alive?
My answer was very utilitarian back when I was in politics: Somebody who was big enough in politics that they mattered but small enough that I could actually make a genuine connection with and use them in my career.
But now I think sitting down with RuPaul would be a lot of fun. She came to my grand opening actually. She was just driving by because DragCon was happening at the same time. She was driving her M-Class SUV or whatever and pulled into our alley. My business partner ran up, and RuPaul said, “What in the gay world is going on here?!” We had a big roll of pink AstroTurf in the alleyway and it was clear that this was a very LGBT event. She said “Condragulations to Green Kween,” and sent someone in to buy a bunch of stuff.