Everything You Need To Know About Australia’s First Female-Led Cannabis Dispensary

By Alexandra Middleton
3rd Mar 2021

A green and oak covered interior of Australia's first female-led cannabis dispensary.

Astrid Dispensary is leading the way in plant-based medicine and medicinal cannabis. Located on South Yarra’s Chapel Street, the boutique speciality pharmacy is the first of its kind in Australia—and is entirely run by women. 

After many years spent working in the medical cannabis industry, Astrid’s Founder and Managing Director Lisa Nguyen realised a huge gap for medical cannabis patients in Australia. Her goal is to provide an accessible, alternative treatment option for patients and to reinvent the concept of pharmacy within the healthcare system.

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

Astrid’s unique end-to-end solution business model focuses on timely access and ongoing patient care. The speciality pharmacy offers a front of house service where patients can undergo a medical review by a healthcare professional, complete an eligibility assessment and be educated about plant-based medicine.

“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 for patients,” Nguyen says.

“We work with Authorised Prescribers to ensure we always have medicinal cannabis products available for patients, so that once patients come to see us, it is less about sourcing the medicine, and more about educating patients how to use the medicine safely.” 

In Australia, patients must exhaust all approved treatments before they become eligible for cannabis medicines, which remain a last resort. The team at Astrid are passionate about providing timely access to eligible patients, as well as ongoing education and support once they have been prescribed. Astrid also hosts educational events outside of their business hours for patients and healthcare professionals on various health and wellness topics.

“Continuation of care is so important,” Nguyen says. “It’s not a transactional process.”

Walking into Astrid, you realise it’s not your typical medical dispensary—Tasmanian oak cupboards lining the warm green walls and pot plants perched atop terrazzo stone benches don’t exactly scream pharmacy. But the calm and welcoming interior of Astrid reflects their inclusive approach to holistic health and plant-based therapies. You’ll also find premium skincare brands and plant-based retail products for sale. 

“We wanted to soften the pharmacy experience by creating a calm, green space that is inviting and comfortable for visitors and patients,” Ngyuen says.

“Patients have commented that it doesn’t feel like a pharmacy or a clinic—Astrid is the future of pharmacy and medicine.”

Astrid Dispensary is all about providing accessible alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs and a nurturing environment for patients in the rapidly changing medicinal cannabis industry. In a healthcare system full of stigma and dominated by men, Lisa Nguyen and her team are proud to be Australia’s first female-led cannabinoid medicine dispensary. 

Feeling like a plant-based feed? Check out 10 of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne which include some awesome vegan options. 

Image credit: supplied

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