In the first article of a new series, Cannabiz shines a spotlight on the women making Australia one of the world’s most gender-diverse legal cannabis industries.

Lisa Nguyen is a woman on a mission. Having cut her teeth at Canopy Growth and Medlab Clinical, she’s launched a new pharmacy in Melbourne’s South Yarra which aims to smash down the barriers to entry familiar to so many Australian cannabis patients.

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Astrid Dispensary is a boutique pharmacy pioneering patient-centred care, plant-based medicine and medicinal cannabis.

Founder and managing director Nguyen recognised patients still struggle to find a pharmacy and/or pharmacist that understands medicinal cannabis, who can work alongside doctors to monitor patients and dispense cannabis medication in a timely manner.

The Astrid Dispensary team are passionate about addressing the barriers that continue to exist for patients

She said: “Although some education is available, doctors are still fearful of prescribing medicinal cannabis due to a lack of understanding and the stigma associated with it, despite it being legalised for some years now, making the journey for patients extremely convoluted and confusing.”

Nguyen said even once patients are finally prescribed, the next step – finding a pharmacy – can also be confusing and frustrating.

“Patients often need to ask their pharmacist to source the product and dispense the medication. But finding a pharmacist that understands medicinal cannabis, that can provide appropriate education and follow up, is very difficult.

Astrid Dispensary founder and managing director Lisa Nguyen

“In some instances, patients wait up to 4-5 days for their medication as pharmacies do not have the capacity to have the product available in a timely manner.”