A first-of-its-kind medical clinic has opened its doors today in Melbourne’s South Yarra, aiming to improve accessibility, education, and advocacy for medicinal cannabis and psychedelic-assisted therapies.
V22 Dispensary hosts a range of GPs, specialists, and nurse practitioners who will assist patients in getting access to these cutting-edge therapies while being able to discuss them in a space free from stigma and judgement.
“We have created an open environment where people can come together in a safe space to talk about their experiences without judgement,” founder Vivian Nguyen said in a statement.
“It is our goal that everyone who visits our dispensary feels comfortable speaking openly about their struggles.”
Nguyen is a Melbourne-based pharmacist who has worked with cannabinoid science leaders to bring cannabis-based medicine to Australian patients. Her advocacy was instrumental in the registration and PBS listing of the first cannabis-based medicine in Australia.
For the vast majority of patients who end up using medicinal cannabis, which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, chronic pain is the condition they want treatment for. Chronic pain affects approximately one in five Australians aged 45 and over, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The long-term treatment options for the issue are limited and, as GPs see an increase in patients with chronic pain, the need for alternative therapies has become more critical, Nguyen has said.
Some have turned to cannabis as a possible solution, though the medical community remains divided on its effectiveness. The Australian Medical Association states that cannabis should only be used as a last resort, with concerns over long-term use and the potential for abuse. At the same time, the testimony from the hundreds of thousands of current patients in the country point to cannabis as being a wonder drug.
Psychedelics, on the other hand, are a whole other frontier of treatment. The preliminary evidence we have suggests that they too could be drugs for the treatment of chronic mental health conditions like PTSD and depression.
With Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration having opened the door to authorised psychiatrists giving therapy with MDMA or psilocybin, V22 Dispensary hopes to be able to facilitate access to the drugs, which still face a long road to access following the July 1 changes.
“I am hopeful that we will see available treatment options that will meet the TGA requirements for regulatory approval in Australia soon,” Nguyen told The Latch.
“I would certainly like V22 Dispensary to be one of the first to offer these treatments, once regulatory approval has been granted”.
For Nguyen, the work in opening access to these potentially life-saving treatments is more than a professional drive. She has personal experience with losing a loved one to suicide which has driven her to want to help people living with pain and mental illness achieve better health outcomes.
The launch of V22 Dispensary marks an important step forward in driving advocacy, education, and access to emerging therapies for those living with pain or mental illness in Australia.