Why These Women Are Fighting For Cannabis To Be Legalised In Australia

We spoke to Lisa Nguyen, Founder & CEO of Australia’s first female-led dispensary, Astrid.

Astrid is Australia’s first female-led dispensary and is a one-of-a-kind formula that creates a coherent pathway between practitioner, pharmacist and patient through cannabis therapy. Since its opening in 2021, Astrid has been recognised as a trailblazer within the field and won Dispensary Of The Year in 2021 by the Australian Cannabis Awards, as well as winning the Melbourne Design Awards in the same year. Founder & CEO of Astrid, Lisa Nguyen, has been titled a pioneer in alternative medicine and has established a new wave of well-being.

Since the TGA approved prescribed medicinal cannabis in 2016, prescriptions have been on a steady incline reaching over 117,000 new applications for prescriptions in 2022 alone. Currently, registered doctors and nurse practitioners can prescribe medicinal cannabis, which can be accessed through telehealth consultations, a doctor’s clinic or a pharmacy with a registered prescriber. 

As an Australian-trained clinical pharmacist, Lisa’s comprehension of the country’s medical system gives her a unique insight into how and where to make fundamental changes. Since opening its first location on Chapel Street in Melbourne in early 2021, Astrid has grown into a thirty-strong team of pharmacists, nurses, technicians and assistants, who have all contributed to building a sanctuary of support and holistic remedies.

Clinical Pharmacist, Founder & CEO of Astrid – Lisa Nguyen

We are seeing a huge rise in the number of patients on medicinal cannabis in Australia as people are starting to take a more natural approach to their well-being and see the benefit of plant medicines. People are using less pharmaceutical drugs to manage their conditions and from their journey of using medicinal cannabis, start to take a more holistic approach towards their healthcare. 

Bee Mohamed, Head of Patient Advocacy & Government Relations 

For over five years, Lisa Nguyen has worked within the ever evolving industry of plant-based medicine. As a medical science liaison, her role has been to educate doctors, nurses and pharmacists about the benefits of cannabis in a pharmaceutical setting.

We are entering an exciting time in the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia where both patients and prescribers are expanding their understanding of natural, plant-based medicines – such as medicinal cannabis – and integrating their use as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. 

Sarah Rajah, Head of Education & Stakeholder Engagement

Share with us your story on how Astrid was founded and what led to your decision to pursue it?

“I was born with chronic eczema and asthma, and have suffered chronic itch, pain and insomnia for most of my life. Unlike other atopic eczema conditions, my eczema was hereditary – my dad, my grandmother and my great grandfather also suffered from this condition and it has been passed down from generation to generation.”

“Growing up in Australia, my family struggled to find natural treatments to decrease and slow down my skin’s inflammation. GPs and dermatologists would only recommend treatments to mask the problem, such as strong oral and topical steroids, rather than actually treating the root cause or naturally reducing my symptoms. My eczema and insomnia was always like a rollercoaster; the more stressed I got, the worse my eczema became. The worse my eczema became, the less I slept and the worse I felt about myself.” 

“When I got to my twenties, my chronic eczema really started to take a toll on my mental health –  and I had enough. So, I decided to take my health in my own hands, and I sought out more natural treatments. I discovered CBD and THC in university, and saw the benefits of potentially using medicinal cannabis as a topical anti-inflammatory cream or ointment on my skin. I found that by using topical CBD and THC in conjunction with a low dairy diet, regular exercise and consistent meditation – my inflammation reduced and my symptoms became more manageable. Best of all, I no longer needed to continue on heavy steroids.” 

“From a personal perspective, after being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, triggered by stress which manifested through my skin, I have found medicinal cannabis to provide great relief – both for my skin and for my mental health. Integrating medicinal cannabis as part of a holistic treatment plan alongside has been the turning point in my healthcare journey.”

“The legalisation of medicinal cannabis is a game changer for Australians suffering from chronic illnesses – and I hope to see these treatments more widely known to GPs and dermatologists in future medicine.”

More research is being conducted in Australia

Levin Health is an Australian sports science company focused on evidence-based research, development and commercialisation of medicinal cannabis products initially for the treatment of pain, mental health disorders and sport-related ailments.

The Company will complete a world-leading clinical trial investigating the efficacy of its patented medicinal cannabis formula, clinically validating its use in the treatment of pain and secondary indications, such as anxiety, stress and insomnia. Upon the anticipated successful completion of the Phase 2a trial in 2024, Levin Health will leverage its prominent sport and medical contacts to deliver on its commercialisation strategy of providing direct patient access in Australia and overseas.

Completion of this trial will provide a breadth of clinically validated data currently lacking in the medicinal cannabis market, which is expected to reach over USD $1.5 billion in Australia alone, and USD $103 billion globally by 2024. Levin Health currently has a range of prescription products available under the LevinTM brand accessible through the Special Access Scheme. All products are made in Australian GMP-certified facilities with Australian cannabis. They are committed to developing and providing the best cannabis-based medicine possible.

It’s fair to say we are only at the very beginning of harnessing the power of cannabis in Australia.

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