BY LEAH MAURER
I heard about this story about a group of women at a dispensary in Sacramento, California called River City Phoenix (RCP) and found it so touching I had to share it.
It speaks volumes about the community that is created amongst co-workers, and particularly amongst women, in the world of cannabis as we all try and wade through these unchartered waters for the first time alongside each other.
Sacramento based River City Phoenix (RCP) has been supplying patients with cannabis based medicine since 2010. In that time, RCP has grown to be one of California’s largest and most respected medical marijuana dispensaries.
What makes RCP’s growth and reputation somewhat unusual is that its day-to-day management team is comprised entirely of women. While it’s true that the young and burgeoning medical cannabis industry is dominated by men, it’s an extraordinary group of four women who keep RCP at the top of the heap in terms of dollar volume and patients serviced. This is no small task based on the need to be constantly navigating the industry’s strict and complex banking and business regulations.
RCP’s management team consists of Angela Braga, 24, head of purchasing and inventory control; Jennifer Sutton, 26, chief financial director; Vicky Dudley, 45, head bookkeeper and payroll manager; and Shayna Shonauer, 27, regional manager in charge of three area dispensaries run by RCP.
With these four young women in key management positions, RCP has grown into one of the most successful dispensaries in the state. As an illustration of just how much business the dispensary is now doing, RCP consistently provides 20 to 25 percent of the cannabis tax collected by the city of Sacramento. This is in a market of nearly 30 operating dispensaries. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that all four women initially discovered RCP as patients.
“I was very impressed with the quality and variety of their meds”, said Jennifer Sutton. “I also loved the overall atmosphere. The people here are extremely knowledgeable and compassionate.” Sutton knows a thing or two about compassion. After learning that fellow management member Angela Braga was in need of a kidney transplant, she volunteered her kidney. Upon discovering that she and Braga were a blood type match, Sutton agreed to the kidney donation a year ago. Today both are doing fine and working full-time at the busy dispensary.
Vicky Dudley and Shayna Shonauer were also impressed enough with RCP to quit their jobs and go to work there. “We are providing a valuable service for a lot of people who are seeing great results”, says Dudley. “It’s a big reason I came to work here. I know from personal experience that RCP strives to maintain a level of excellence and quality control you unfortunately don’t see at a lot of dispensaries.”
Shonauer echoes Dudley’s sentiments. “I was extremely impressed by the level of professionalism I found at RCP. All of our meds are laboratory tested to ensure they are of the highest quality without contaminants. That’s the level of commitment to patient safety that drew me here in the first place.”
One of the reasons RCP maintains such a large volume of patients is due directly to the efforts of these women. From scheduling the work force and keeping inventory levels in place to paying bills and complying with city regulations, the team at RCP keeps the business humming like a well-oiled machine. They are also instrumental in keeping up with the latest advances in the industry both in products and accessories.
Matt Z’berg is the Community Outreach Coordinator for RCP and said, “All of these women have been working here for years together and have had tons of hoops to go through together and hurdles to get past and it has really created a tight knit family atmosphere here. The cannabis industry creates community within companies as we are all moving forward together. It creates bonds not just as co-workers but as long lasting and meaningful friendships.”
In this rapidly changing industry where recreational cannabis use was approved in California this past November, one thing is for sure: RCP will maintain a leadership role moving forward as long as this dynamic group of women remain at the helm. RCP plans to open another shop in Sacramento soon and will be watching city and state regulations as the newly passed Prop 64 rolls out in California.