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“We cannot stop until we have a proper, regulated medical cannabis sector here in the UK”

Maple Tree What's Your Why - Katya Kowalski

The Maple Tree podcast is back with another episode, in which we ask Melissa Sturgess, CEO of Ananda Developments, ‘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.

It recently reached a huge milestone and secured regulatory approval and NHS funding to conduct clinical trials in chemotherapy-induced neuropathy (CIPN) and endometriosis.

But as we know, What’s Your Why is all about looking beyond business and commercial forecasts in favour of open and honest conversations with guests about why their work in this sector matters to them.

Melissa shares what she learned being brought up by parents who had lived through World War II and how she always felt she had a burning ambition but couldn’t find her calling.

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.

“At first it was a commercial opportunity— I didn’t have a calling to cannabis, but once you get into the space you realise that actually, there is something that really needs to be done here.”
“We cannot stop until we have a proper, regulated medical cannabis sector here in the UK… so UK patients and UK prescribers can say ‘here’s what we need’ and we can deliver that.”

Hear more from Hannah and Mike’s interview with Melissa below or via your usual podcast app.

If you enjoyed this episode we highly recommend you subscribe so you will be the first to know when the next one lands—and we’d love it if you could leave us a rating or review!



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