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International Women’s Day: 30 women leading the way in cannabis



For International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating those women who are truly making their mark on the cannabis sector.


From the best female-focused CBD brands to trailblazing campaigners, researchers, prescribers and patients, these are some of the women who are going above and beyond to pave the way for the future of the cannabis industry.


Hannah Deacon, campaigner, co-founder of Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society & director, Maple Tree Consultants

Hannah Deacon is an award winning medical cannabis campaigner. She ran a campaign in 2017/18 with the lobby group End Our Pain, which resulted in her son Alfie Dingley receiving the first legal NHS prescription for medical cannabis. His doctors received a permanent schedule one license in June 2018 which enabled them to prescribe legally for Alfie.

Hannah now continues to campaign for fair access to medical cannabis treatments on the NHS and is also the Executive Director of The Medical cannabis Clinicians society and Director of Maple Tree Consultancy. Through this work she hopes to help create a patient focused sector which will benefit patients like her son Alfie.




Vera Twomey, campaigner

Vera spearheaded the campaign for access to medical cannabis in Ireland firstly on behalf of her daughter Ava Barry and subsequently on behalf of thousands who continue to seek access to medication for their family members.

Her commitment and dedication to the advocacy for cannabis has become known across the UK Europe and North America. Vera has spoken within the House of Commons and The European parliament as well as all around the Rep of Ireland and Northern Ireland on the topic of medical cannabis.

Her book “For Ava” details the struggle and dedication she exhibited to achieve access to medication for her daughter. A regular speaker surrounding the issue of medical cannabis Vera Twomey can be credited with bringing the issue of cannabis into the public sphere in Ireland. Her exceptional determination can be given significant credit for the positive changes made by the government to move the issue of cannabis in the Rep of Ireland forward.


Dr Dani Gordon, researcher & medical cannabis expert

Dani is recognised as a leading expert in cannabis medicine, speaking internationally and working as a consultant to some of the first cannabis medicine clinics in the UK. She has treated thousands of patients with medical cannabis alongside pharmacotherapy, nutritional medicine, MBSR and evidence-based mind-body techniques to help manage stress-related conditions.

She had a leading cannabis medicine referral-based practise in Canada as an integrative medicine specialist where she specialised in the treatment of complex chronic conditions including anxiety, fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia and chronic pain. She is an educator and consultant for clinical research in cannabinoid medicine working with global researchers.



Sophie Hayes, specialist nurse at Integro Medical Clinics

Sophie is a registered nurse with a speciality in Emergency and Acute Medicine. She has worked in A&E and nursing intensive care Covid 19 patients. She is released from her role as the only specialist cannabis practise nurse in the country, at Integro Medical Cannabis Clinic, where she now works full time, to work in intensive care once a month because of her love of her profession and the NHS.

Since 2014 Sophie has worked with cannabis patient advocacy organisations planning and working on campaigns and community events and taking delegations of patients to give testimony at parliament. In 2019 she co-founded and launched the Nurse’s Arm of CPASS (Cannabis Patient Advocacy and Support Services) at the Royal College of Nursing, of which she is now clinical lead.


Jade Proudman, founder & CEO, Savage Cabbage

Since founding the company in 2016, Jade has worked tirelessly as an industry advocate across the UK and Europe to raise awareness and understanding, to educate and to support patients and customers from over 50 countries around the world. The company is the official distributor of Charlotte’s Web in Europe and the UK, the world’s most trusted hemp extract.

As a patient herself, with a multitude of health problems, Jade’s life was transformed by Charlotte’s Web hemp products, which allowed her to drop all prescription medicines within 30 days. Since then, she has set out on a mission to support others on similar journeys through Savage Cabbage. Jade also possesses a Masters Degree in Education and Pedagogy, while also having had a 15-year-career in social care, driven by her desire to support and improve the standards of care to those most vulnerable.


Mary Biles, writer

Mary’s introduction to the medicinal properties of cannabis began with the terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer of a friend’s mother who had been given cannabis oil in the last few months of her life, allowing her to die with dignity. As a writer, she knew the power of words and swore to her friend to do something about the utter injustice whereby millions of people around the world are denied access to the healing potential of the cannabis plant.

Since then Mary’s life has been dedicated to educating the world about cannabis, CBD and the endocannabinoid system. For the last two years, she’s been a regular contributing writer for one of the most respected sources of cannabis education, Project CBD , as well as chief editor at CPASS (Cannabis Patient Advocacy and Support Services).

In 2020, Mary published ‘The CBD Book: The Essential Guide to CBD Oil’ (Harper Collins), from which she got the inspiration to start her podcast ‘Cannabis Voices’.


Alicia Maher, campaigner & cannabis law expert

Alicia is currently undertaking a PhD in Law in the regulation of cannabis for medical purposes in Ireland. She has suffered from chronic pain since 2006 after complications from surgery and by 2018, she was taking 30 opioids a day. As a last resort she decided to try cannabis in 2018 and has since come off all pain medication and uses cannabis exclusively to manage her pain.

In September 2019, Alicia held a medical cannabis symposium at the University of Limerick to highlight the issues faced due to the lack of access to medicinal cannabis in Ireland. She continues to campaign for the Medical Cannabis Access Programme to be broadened to include other conditions where there is evidence to suggest cannabis is beneficial, and for the cost to be reimbursed under the relevant schemes in Ireland.


Lorenza Romanese, managing director, European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)

Based in EIHA’s Brussels office, Lorenza is a veteran policy advisor and communication manager at the European level. She has led EIHA’s efforts in Brussels since February 2019, having worked with a number of MEPs to propose reforms affecting hemp in the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy.

EIHA represents the common interests of hemp farmers, producers and traders working with hemp fibres, shives, seeds, leaves and cannabinoids. Our main task is to serve, protect and represent the hemp sector in the EU and international policymaking. It recently crowdfunded to launch the largest study into the toxicological impacts of humans ingesting trace levels of THC.

Lorenza previously advised interests in the oil and gas sector and led the European Association of independent Winegrowers.





Dr Julie Moltke, researcher & medical cannabis prescriber

Dr Julie Moltke is a medical doctor with a focus on mental health, stress management, and the medicinal cannabis industry. She is the author of ‘A Quick Guide to CBD’ and the founder and former editor of the London-based health, wellness, and cannabis science publication, Getthedose, as well as The Holistic Medicine Podcast.

Julie is a peer-reviewed clinical researcher and industry consultant with a focus on medicinal cannabis and holistic health. Dr Julie Moltke prescribes medicinal cannabis at Clinic Horsted in Denmark, and she is on the advisory board of The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, The Primary Care Cannabis Network, and the patient organisation CPASS, among others.





Nicole Lonergan, founder, Cork Cannabis Activist Network

Nicole founded Cork Cannabis Activist Network in 2016 to raise awareness about the benefits of cannabis after it helped her to overcome depression and manage her anxiety. She now advocates sensible drug policy as well as access to safe, legal cannabis for medical & wellness purposes, and responsible adult-use in Ireland.

“Being vocal about cannabis is important to me as it has helped me to change my perspective not only on life, but also on the illegality of all drugs,” she said.

“Allowing an illegal market to continue controlling this highly sought after and beneficial commodity is senseless and has harmed so many people in our society for generations. I am proud of the work I am doing, and of the platforms I have created to speak up about cannabis because it’s the right thing to do. I hope to continue inspiring other people to do the same.”


Siouxie & Nina, founders, Women of Weed UK

Siouxie and Nina started Women of Weed with the intention to create a safe space for women to be able to connect through their relationship with cannabis. They have managed to create a huge support network which has been used to distribute donations and enabled women to connect with each other so that they do not feel so alone and isolated anymore due to being cannabis consumers.

The space they have created is as safe, friendly and approachable as possible to allow women to ask whatever questions they have in mind. They now plan to expand and ensure men understand that they are welcome to join the conversation too, in order to break the walls between consumers.




Dr Callie Seaman, cannabis scientist

Dr Callie Seaman is a veteran of the hydroponic industry and became passionate about medicinal cannabis when she was first diagnosed with epilepsy over 20 years. In 2018 she joined the United Patient Alliance and went on to help educate others about cannabis, speaking at events such as the CMC research synopsis in 2019. In the summer of 2019, Callie became one of the scientific co-curators of a pilet program at Cambridge University, CANNTalks and is now on the advisory board for patient advocacy group CPASS.

Callie is also an experienced cannabis scientist, having first studied for a degree in Biomedical Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University, during her PhD she became a founding director of Aqua Laboratories Limited – a formulator and producer of specialist hydroponic nutrients. She has published numerous scientific articles, book chapters and peer review scientific papers.



Dr Mala Mawkin, head of market development, Cellen

Dr Mala Mawkin MBBS BSc was a finalist in the Women of the Future awards 2019, listed on Forbes 30 under 30 Europe 2018 and was one of Vogue’s 10 Rising Female Stars in 2018.

Currently head of market Development at Cellen, she is particularly interested in the use of Medical Cannabis for managing patients with unmet clinical needs. Mala is a co-founder of the Women in Medical Cannabis Leadership in UK networking group.

Digital Medicine Innovation Lead at Imperial College London, she hosts the Digital Health Podcast for the Royal Society of Medicine.

Previously, she was a doctor in the NHS and has worked at institutions such as European Space Agency, Malawi’s e-health programme, as well as Harvard & Boston Children’s Hospital’s Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator. She sits on the advisory board for PLEA (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) and CPASS.


Sophie Thompson, communications professional, Aurora Healthcare

Sophie is a strategic communications professional at Aurora Healthcare Communications, with experience working across a range of therapy areas to ensure patient access to innovation. Her passion for making a difference to people’s lives is what drove her to explore how communications could address key challenges in medicinal cannabis.

Sophie co-founded the Women Medicinal Cannabis Leadership UK group with an aim to foster collaboration and leverage the combined expertise of the group to address these challenges.





Abby Hughes, chair of PLEA (Patient-Led Engagement for Access)

Proficient in curating change culture and service transformation, Abby is an experienced NHS operations lead dedicated to advocating for patients.

Transferring her expertise, Abby is a patient access consultant for Drug Science’s Project Twenty21, Europe’s largest medicinal cannabis registry evidencing safety and efficacy.

A co-founder of PlantEd Collective, she is interested in the integration of evidence-based plant medicine within mainstream healthcare, particularly in the areas of chronic pain and mental health.

A committed volunteer in the medicinal cannabis sector for over five years, Abby represents PLEA as chair and outreach director.


Lucy Stafford, advocacy lead, PLEA (Patient-Led Engagement for Access)

Having spent most of her teenage years in severe pain, dependent on opiates and a feeding tube, discovering medical cannabis has transformed Lucy’s health and quality of life.

Lucy is a patient access consultant for Project Twenty21, and is passionate about working towards a healthcare system that integrates the use of medical cannabis in the UK.

Currently studying a STEM degree, she aims to study cannabinoid science in future.

In 2017, Lucy was awarded Young Person of the Year in Cambridgeshire for her work supporting young people in hospital.



Dr Anne Katrin-Schlag, head of research, Drug Science

DrAnne Katrin Schlag is a Chartered Psychologist and Head of Research at Drug Science. She completed her PhD in Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, before working as Lecturer at King’s College London where she developed her expertise across the spectrum of science and policy making, risk perception, risk management and risk communication.

Within her role at Drug Science, she leads the research for the Medical Cannabis Working Group, focusing on controversies surrounding medical cannabis, the improvement of patient access, and the continued development of education and stakeholder communication about medical cannabis. Dr Schlag is currently working on progressing the scientific evidence base of medical cannabis to include Patient-Reported Outcomes, observational studies (such as T21) and the application of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to assess the benefits and safety of medical cannabis.



Sophie Gamwell, head of operations, LYPHE Group

Originally from Australia, Sophie was a nurse in emergency medicine and intensive care where she saw the impact of the opioid crisis first hand, before taking a career break and moving to New York. She then worked in tech start-ups before joining LYPHE Group as head of operations in 2019. With over 60 percent of the UK market, Sophie has built and run the busiest medical cannabis clinic in the UK from a standing start, to support more than 2,500 patients since January 2020.




Dr Rebecca Moore, psychiatrist, The Medical Cannabis Clinics


A psychiatrist specialising in trauma, PTSD, anxiety and mood disorders, five years ago Rebecca became aware of how cannabis was being used to treat patients with PTSD. She won a Winston Churchill fellowship to travel to the US to see the work being done with veterans.

In 2019 she left the NHS and has been with the Medical Cannabis Clinics, the UK’s largest network of prescribing doctors, since day one. Rebecca is incredibly interwoven in the industry and has supported hundreds of cannabis patients, including as a prescriber on Project Twenty21. With over 20 years of clinical experience working with women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, she is passionate about supporting women’s wellness and specialises in working with women with depression, anxiety, birth trauma or PTSD, OCD and psychosis.


Carly Barton, founder Carly’s Amnesty & Cancard

Carly was the first person in the UK to receive a prescription for cannabis privately since the law change in 2018. Leading her own Amnesty, Carly is working with government organisations in the hope of converting this to an NHS prescription, setting precedent for other patients.

Having to give up her role Lecturing in the Arts, she discovered that cannabis was more effective than opioids in treating her fibromyalgia and post-stroke neuropathy. Founder of Cancard, Carly has worked with the help of doctors to design an initiative backed by senior representatives of the Police Federation and made for patients. She is also a contributing member to the Global Medical Cannabis Council and member of PLEA’s advisory board.


Rebekah Hall, CEO, South West Brands

Coming from 10 years in investment banking, Rebekah Hall took the leap to set up a health and wellbeing consumer business, with no previous experience in the industry. Botanic Lab went on to bring the first charcoal drink to the UK, before becoming the first brand in Europe to launch a CBD drink.

With her all-female management team Rebekah is now leading South West Brands (SWB), the first multi-brand consumer goods group developed specifically for the CBD industry, in its mission to build scaled cannabis brands across multiple segments of the market. The firm recently raised £1 million in capital to launch, but its sights are set much higher.


Valentina Milanova, founder, Daye

After having her first painful period at nine years old, Valentina spent her free time researching papers initially on female health conditions like PCOS and endometriosis. She came across industrial hemp and how the plant’s fibres were more absorbent than cotton, and the flower extract had analgesic properties. This provoked Valentina’s eureka moment and after years of clinical research, fundraising and dedication, Daye was founded. The company went on to create the world’s first clinically validated CBD tampon.

The Bulgarian 25-year-old managed to secure backing from A-list venture firms, recruit top talent, and launch her company’s first product to market in less than 12 months. Valentina aims to bridge the gender gap in medical research, raise the standards in female health products and service and normalise the conversation on female health.



Rachel Mason, founder, Our Remedy

Rachel Mason the founder and CEO of Our Remedy, an award-winning wellness brand offering sustainably packaged natural remedies for sleep, periods and anxiety. It was founded to help other women after Rachel experienced IVF, shortly followed by being diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and undergoing a hysterectomy.

Led by a team of women, the brand hopes to provide support and hope for women experiencing debilitating symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle and beyond. The range is totally vegan and eco-friendly, using soy inks, biodegradable shipping bags and recycled card boxes.


Melissa Lopes, director and co-founder, Green Active CBD

Melissa co-founded Green Active to spend her days providing life-changing products to positively impact people’s lives. She runs the company as an extension of who she is as a person, ensuring that all of the brands’ day-to-day activities as a business serve a greater good and contribute to the wider community.

The brand is actively supporting Murray Gray, a young boy with Doose Syndrome (a particularly serious form of childhood epilepsy) that sees it donate 100 percent of the profits generated from any sale that is made with the code FORMURRAY to help pay for Murray’s life changing medicinal cannabis prescription.


Amelia Baerlein, co-founder & CEO, Apothem Labs

Amelia co-founded plant-based wellness brand, APOTHEM in October 2019, as one of the first CBD brands in the UK to focus on a fully transparent supply chain, rigorous independent testing and a one hundred percent commitment to compliance. It paid off as the brand launched in Harvey Nichols and can also be found in a number of luxury and independent retailers including Cult Beauty, Four Seasons, Soho Home and Beast.

Amelia is committed to empowering women in business and encouraging others to channel their entrepreneurial spirit. She is also passionate about supporting positive mental health and last year the brand partnered with suicide prevention charity CALM to run a successful awareness and fundraising campaign.

Leah Remfry-Peploe, co-founder, Ohne

Ohne is the community-first brand reshaping the way people experience their menstrual cycles.

The company was established by Leah and Nikki, best friends from their university days, who felt a frustration at the archaic menstrual health industry and limited offering. Whilst they wanted to offer organic and biodegradable tampons and pads (unlike the mainstream offering), Leah also suffered with painful cramps and was looking for a natural solution. Their Holy Cramp CBD oil is the UK’s first ever pro-period CBD oil, meaning it was created with a woman’s cycle in mind.


Lorraine Clark & Samantha Day, co-founders, Hapi Hemp

Lorraine and Samantha, two mums who made friends at the school gates have both battled various health issues over the years. When Samantha found that CBD helped lift the “dark cloud” hovering over her after suffering breast cancer in 2017, she recommended it to her friend who had been struggling with her mental health.

Lorraine, who had suffered for years with hormonal imbalance which worsened after having children, found CBD made her life more manageable. By 2018 the pair were such converts that they joined forces to launch Hapi Hemp at their kitchen table in a mission to help other people benefit from CBD.


Michelle Rust, founder, Potyque

Michelle is a self-employed management consultant and mum of two teenagers. Having worked in healthcare for her entire career and in the late 90’s spent time within the fields of psychiatry and women’s health, she knew when she became menopausal herself that HRT wasn’t for her.

The consequences of not taking anything meant being faced with mood swings, weight gain, hot flushes, sleep disruption and being completely out of balance. Upon researching the many possible health benefits of CBD, it became clear that this could not only help her symptoms, but also thousands if not millions of women. Disappointed with the lack of reliable options on the market, Michelle created a premium brand of natural CBD using only the finest extraction processes, a brand based on honesty and integrity.



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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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