While she’s a devoted educator of cannabis now, Sara Payan wasn’t expecting to become involved in the industry. 

“If you told me 11 years ago I’d be doing this, I’d tell you you were nuts!” She laughs.

At age 37, she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and found relief with medicinal cannabis as a way to alleviate the scary side effects of chemo and forgo using opioids. 

Her desire to help others through similar experiences made Payan passionate about educating people about cannabis, leading her to becoming the first Public Education Officer for The Apothecarium in San Francisco.

Payan wanted to recreate the welcoming, supportive experience she had in the dispensary as a first time customer with safe access, compassionate consultation, and available information.  

Now with education workshops, lectures across the country, her own website, and a podcast “Planted with Sara Payan,” she has over 18,000 hours of experience helping others through the healing power of cannabis.

With background work in nonprofits and civil rights, her values have centered on educating the public on cannabis and how it works for different people. She believes that by giving the public “the language and tools to understand” cannabis, it will empower them on their own journey with the plant.

Sara Payan
Public Education Officer/ Podcast Host
Planted with Sara Payan

Educating about cannabis is only part of Payan’s focus. She also wants people to become more involved with the policies surrounding cannabis and the War on Drugs. She believes the public’s frustrations around taxation, higher costs, legalization, regulations, and more are a call to action.

“We need to step it up and have more conversations and start putting politicians’ feet to the fire,” Payan says. She wants the public to be more aware of the power they have when it comes to these same policymakers. “It’s their jobs at stake if they don’t represent the will of the people.”

Payan also believes cannabis education is important to drive sound policy. By educating policymakers on facts rather than falsehoods, they enact policies that help benefit the cannabis community as a whole. 

The industry can’t do all of this alone. Building this foundation of education in cannabis needs to include women, who have unfortunately been getting squeezed out over the last several years.

“We need to maintain our female focus in cannabis,” Payan says. As the industry has expanded, it’s become harder for women to be heard and get the funds necessary to remain in the market. She doesn’t want cannabis to be a “pay to play club.”

Women supporting and mentoring other women in a way that is accessible and substantial are things Payan wants to see more of. 

Payan’s advice?

“Identify your experts and identify your mentors — that is really important. Get involved.”

Lilach Mazor Power

Dr. Susan Audino