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Podcast: What's Your Why?

Join medical cannabis industry experts Hannah Deacon and Professor Mike Barnes as they sit down with leading voices from the sector to explore how they found themselves in the world of medicinal cannabis and why it matters to them.

What’s Your Why looks beyond commercial forecasts to make space for open and honest conversations with the people at the heart of this emerging and ever-evolving industry. Listen on Acast & Apple Podcasts.

Episode 03

Melissa Sturgess: What's Your Why


In our first episode of 2024, Hannah Deacon and Professor Mike Barnes spoke to Melissa about her life before cannabis, from growing up in Australia to a high-flying career in the mining industry (much of which was spent being the only woman in the room). 

Melissa founded Ananda Developments after reading an article about cannabis on the off-chance. At its UK manufacturing facility, the company is focused on developing cannabinoid medicines for the treatment of complex, chronic inflammatory pain conditions. 

Hannah and Mike also hear about the many ways she 'reinvented' herself throughout her career, from selling sports memorabilia to negotiating 'exhilarating' underground mining deals in South Africa and being asked to make the tea in a boardroom full of men.

Now she is fully committed to helping establish a robust medical cannabis industry in the UK and enabling patients to have consistent access to high-quality medicines.

Melissa Sturgess: What's Your WhyMaple Tree Consultants
00:00 / 01:04

Episode 02

Katya Kowalski: What’s Your Why?


In this episode, Hannah and Mike went right back to the beginning of Katya’s journey, discussing her childhood and teenage years living in the UK and Prague, and her decision to study psychology at the University of Bath.

It was while at university that Katya developed an interest in drug policy, tackling an essay on the relationship between cannabis and psychosis (ironically, getting one of her lowest marks!)

Her interest in the subject didn’t wane however, and after completing her MA in Health Psychology, she went onto do an internship with Volteface. Here, she has carved a role for herself over the last few years, becoming a prominent spokesperson on UK drug policy.

Katya opens up about the highs and lows of working in the field of medical cannabis - including the myriad of issues with the current UK model - as well as how the campaign for wider access can co-exist alongside that of recreational use.

Katya Kowalski: What’s Your Why?Maple Tree Consultants
00:00 / 01:04

Episode 01

Emma Matthews: What’s Your Why?


Emma’s son Louis was 13-years-old when he had his first seizure. He was later diagnosed with a rare genetic condition which causes severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy. As Emma explains in more detail in this episode, Louis was prescribed dozens of different antiepileptic drugs, all of which failed to control his seizures, some of them even exacerbating them. In 2017 Emma and her family moved to Holland so that Louis could access legal medicinal cannabis treatment.

Now 19, Louis has been seizure free for over two years and is excelling in a Fine Art degree. But since the family moved back to London in 2022, Louis has been refused a prescription for medical cannabis through the NHS, leaving the future of his access to what has been a life-changing treatment, uncertain. 

Emma shares their heartbreaking story with the podcast to highlight the challenges they - and o many other patients - have faced in accessing Medical Cannabis in the UK, despite it being legal to prescribe since 2018.

Emma Matthews: What’s Your Why?Maple Tree Consultants
00:00 / 01:04
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