One Of California’s First Queer-Owned Dispensaries Takes Up Regal Residence In LA
Green Qween, one of the first queer-owned and focused cannabis dispensaries in the state, is finally allowed to open in Los Angeles.
The dispensary was founded by Andrés Rigal and Taylor Bazley, who have spent the last couple of years vying for the city’s support to open their very first shop. The cannabis industry is wrapped up in red tape that can make the road from application to opening an arduous process.
But the tough time was well spent; they wanted to bring representation to a profession that owes a lot of its success to LGBTQ+ people. And they wanted to help make blazing a little less necessary for folks hoping to follow their trail.
“We're like a big ship that’s passing through glaciers, breaking glaciers so that little boats can follow us,” Rigal said. “The idea is to kind of continue creating a path for others to follow us.”
Cannabis rode the coattails of the gay rights movement in California. People with AIDS used marijuana to manage pain in the 1980s, but it wasn’t legal. Dennis Peron, a gay man who argued pot’s benefits for patients, helped pave the way for medical marijuana in the state under Proposition 215. That led to medicinal laws across the United States.
The cannabis industry today has moved farther from the LGBTQ+ roots as mass commercialization has taken hold, and typically only markets to the community during Pride Month.
“I think it's great that companies support LGBTQ people, but if you just show up in June, write a check and slap a rainbow on your window — what is that really doing?” Rigal asked. “How is that really affecting change and how is that supporting the community?”
While the owners are planning a mural on the building’s wall for the community and want to fund a rainbow crosswalk, they’re more focused on helping LGBTQ+ people than only doing performative work.
The owners say the dispensary will focus on brands that are owned by LGBTQ+ growers and people of color to give them a leg up. Bazley says slotting fees are a large barrier in the industry. It can cost up to $50,000 for a prime shelf spot, often locking out smaller brands from ever getting their products seen.
“Consumer brands that are successful are the ones that are owned by cisgender, straight white men — overwhelmingly that are well-capitalized, can afford high slotting fees, and can muscle their way into onto shelves,” Bazley said.
Bazley and Rigal don’t want to do business that way. Instead, they are focusing on equity. Ten percent of yearly profits will help sustain DTLA Proud’s planned community center, the owners say, and they’re hiring LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness through one of their partners.
Green Qween is slated to open on Broadway in downtown L.A. on weed’s holiest day, April 20.
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