Volteface Spotlight: Women in Medical Cannabis Week

by Ella Walsh

We are dedicating the first week of January 2022 to spotlighting the work of women in the medical cannabis sector. Everyday this week we will be releasing articles featuring interviews with some fantastic women working in the sector, who all hold unique personal and professional experience, knowledge and skill sets which has led them to their current role.

We have had the opportunity to take a deep drive with Carly Barton, Hannah Deacon, Dr Mala Mawkin, Monique Ellis and Elisabetta Faenza, discussing their personal and professional journeys into the medical cannabis sector. In these interviews we’ve also learnt about their experiences of this male dominated field, and how they are working to drive the evolution of a medical cannabis industry which can not only meet the needs of patients, but put those needs above all else.

The importance of spotlighting the work of women in the medical cannabis sector

At Volteface we strongly believe in the importance of championing the voices of women in space and spotlighting the incredible work they are doing within the sector. Since the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018 this new developing sector has begun to flourish. However, frustratingly it still remains that only 3 patients have received medical cannabis through the NHS, and financial barriers continue to prevent patients from accessing cannabis treatments through private clinics.

What is clear from speaking with these ladies is their absolute dedication, across the board, to driving the development, growth and evolution of a medical cannabis industry that can overcome these barriers to access, and cater to the patients who need and rely on this medication.

A Male Dominated Sector

The women we have spoken to have highlighted that the medical cannabis sector, much like other sectors, is a male dominated field. For many of the women we spoke to the lack of female representation in the sector is a tangible problem. However, it also seems to be uniquely positioned to do something vastly different to the other sectors by empowering women into leadership roles. As a new multi-disciplinary sector which relies upon drawing in professionals from diverse backgrounds to function and grow, there are boundless opportunities for women with vast skill sets, knowledge, and expertise. 

They also gave empowering advice for other women who are either working, or wanting to work, in the sector. All of the women we interviewed spoke about how being part of the ‘Women in Medical Cannabis Leadership’ network has helped them in navigating this growing sector as a women, and encourage other women in the space to join the network. While many roles within the sector are held by men, the women we spoke to say that it’s better to focus on the benefits of this, such as being underestimated by their male peers. 

Mothers Advocating For Their Children

As raised in our interview with Carly Barton it was not until mothers started publicly advocating for the legalisation of medical cannabis that legislative change came about. Women’s voices, especially those of mothers fighting for their child’s life and quality of life, have been so powerful in influencing meaningful change.

We had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Hannah Deacon about her journey into the sector, which began as a mother fighting for her son Alfies’ life and quality of life. The work she has been doing as a Director of Maple Tree Consultants, notably the recent report outlining recommendations for government, shows how mothers like Hannah are continuing to positively influence the sector. 

Women’s Health

Speaking with some of the women it’s clear that their own experience of chronic health serves as a driver for the work they do in the space, which are incredibly valuable perspectives to have within the sector.

We have previously advocated for feminising the medical cannabis spaceMany women feel modern medicine and medical practices are not designed to meet their needs, and lack female perspectives and insight. There is emerging research for medical cannabis treating endometriosis, helping with symptom management, pain reduction and sleep. The medical cannabis sector has the opportunity to offer new and exciting lines of treatment, which are tailored to women related health conditions and symptoms.

What To Expect This Week 

  • Tuesday 4th of January: Interview with Carly Barton, the Director of Cancard, and patient advocate.
  • Wednesday 5th of January: Interview with Hannah Deacon, Director of Maple Tree Consultants, Executive Director of The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director at MedCan.
  • Thursday 6th of January (morning): Interview with Dr Mala Mawkin, Head of marketing development at Leva Clinic, and Founder of the Women in Medical Cannabis Leadership group / network. 
  • Thursday 6th of January (afternoon): Interview with Monique Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of CHILAM.
  • Friday 7th of January: Interview with Elisabetta Faenza, CEO of the LeafCann Group.


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