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Meet Mary Ann Denzer of Riverside Wellness

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Ann Denzer.

Hi Mary Ann, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have a background in compliance and an education-focused environmental studies with a focus on legal definitions and how they define our culture and relationships to the world around us. My original plan was to attend law school to work in social justice, but when the market crashed in 2008, I could not justify the steep price of law school. Instead, I fell into public water treatment and found a real love for public health. When my husband and I moved to Denver, Colorado, the recreational cannabis market went live the year we arrived and I fell into public health testing – potency testing, residual solvent testing, microbial, terpenes, pesticides – you name it! It was an amazing experience where we really got to dig into the Venn diagram that is cannabis. Between the social, scientific, public health, legal and community aspects of cannabis shifts within the US, I was in love. It is an incredibly exciting field to be in as a young professional, as there is so much to develop & learn and the space to do that!

In 2013, we decided to come back to KC to be closer to our community in Kansas City that we loved so much. I didn’t expect the market to go legal back home so quickly and was ecstatic to be able to share my passion for cannabis with my very own roots and community! When looking for a group to work with, I knew that I wanted to work with an honest, accountable, diversity & community-driven group that shared a baseline love for cannabis & community and I found it at Riverside Wellness. What you see is what you get with this group and everyone brings something to the table. We are a little, locally owned dispensary with deep KC roots. This is our home and we want to serve it the best cannabis at the best price. That is a hard goal to meet in a new market with limited suppliers, but we are getting there. We have many discussions about our patients, our community and how projects are serving them. We are not as big or experienced as some of the multiple license holders in Missouri, so we don’t have massive marketing, product or build budgets, but what we focus on daily is how to create better access, lower prices through our compassionate care program, and hire employees that come from a variety of backgrounds – whether it is the mom new to cannabis, the old school dabhead or veterans that have found relief in natural products versus pharmaceuticals. We foster a sense of acceptance and accountability on our team… it’s not always easy, but our patients can feel it when they walk in the door. When we create that on our staff, they share it with our community.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Absolutely not! Cannabis can be a tough field. In Denver, I worked in a company that went public incredibly quickly and eventually could not handle the burden and folded. I got laid off from that company twice when they had to cut newer staff (they rehired me when possible). The burden of regulations in a field that is still federally illegal creates so many hurdles… from banking to hiring to new technical solutions that really need to be worked through and tested. It is often exhausting and stressful but so very satisfying when you talk to a patient about the lack of sleep, spasticity issues due to neurological diseases, anxiety or extreme pain and hear about how they have been able to cut back on the use of heavy and sometimes dangerous pharmaceuticals by supplementing cannabis. In addition, discussing the science of the endocannabinoid system, cannabis, methods of consumption and dosage is a mind-blower for a lot of people that grew up in the Reefer Madness era. When you discuss the research and science and see that opinion start to shift… someone’s personal definition of what cannabis is… that’s an amazing moment. If you get bored easily, want to serve people, and want to watch cultural shifts firsthand, cannabis is the place to be… but be ready to work.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Riverside Wellness?
We are a stand alone cannabis dispensary in Riverside Wellness that is wholly focused on providing patients in and around Kansas City with a real, local dispensary they can shop at. We are constantly reaching out to our suppliers to find the best products at the best price. Another aspect of Riverside Wellness is that we are woman, minority and veteran-owned and have created a truly diverse workforce – not just in ethnicity, gender, & age but in backgrounds – every person on our team brings a unique cannabis user experience to the table and it is so cool! There is a lot of complaints in the cannabis industry and beyond about the barriers to entry for women and minorities… but not at Riverside Wellness! We don’t just talk about it… we do it. That is true for all of the promises we make. We have a compassionate care program offering discounts to low-income individuals, hero’s such as veterans and medical professionals, those taking public transportation and seniors – a growing part of our patient population. As one of our owners, Patrick Lanning, stated about Riverside Wellness – It’s for patients, by patients. We are passionate cannabis users from all walks of life in the Kansas City community, and it shows.

We are also very education focused… we want to share our knowledge! Not just about the products on our shelves, but current cannabis research, resources for concerns that are out of our scope, the systems that process cannabis, different forms of consumption & dosage. If there is a way for every individual to enjoy cannabis, we want to help you get there! We also offer online ordering, drive through pickup, constant specials, and are about to roll out with delivery for the best patient access we can provide – especially for those who may have mobility restrictions. Because we don’t have a large budget due to being the little guy on the block, we try and make sure all the items we focus on are done well – thinking about how each step creates a better or worse patient experience and constantly working to improve that. A lot of us grew up in the hospitality industry or as nurses that were tired of not being able to provide real compassionate care in the traditional medical market…. we come from places of care and that is apparent in our interactions with each other and our community. We are also really focusing on delivery this year… because who doesn’t want that convenience! We know a lot of people are holding off because it’s scary and we thought, why not? It’s something that patients want, so we want to do it.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Life is hard for everyone and I can’t judge what is happening in your life today… but I can provide a place to feel safe and cared for, which is a lot of what we believe the world needs right now. After experiencing the financial collapse in 2008, it’s obvious that the residual (and direct) costs of the pandemic are not over. Being honest with people about what we need as a small business while listening to what they need as our patients and finding common ground and understanding is so important. We were apart for so long that it seems really important right now to make coming back together safe and possible.

Pricing:

  • Flower: $44-$49 for eighths; daily specials of $274 per ounce
  • Edibles: $30-$90
  • Vapes: $60-$80
  • Concentrates: $70 – we are working every day to lower prices and specials are available daily for those looking for a good deal!!! Find them on our online ordering menu on our website!

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