We had the pleasure of speaking with Sara Payan and she is an amazing woman; an inspiration. Sara is an award-winning cannabis educator specializing in cancer related therapies, Public Education Officer at the Apothecarium (San Francisco), writer, and patient advocate. She's also a musician and singer! She is a stage-three colon cancer survivor who was introduced to the medical marijuana program during her treatment. Cannabis is what got her through her initial illness, surgery and chemo.
The desire to bear witness and help others suffering through illness is what moved her to become an educator, advocate, and activist for medical cannabis and is what drives her to lead the movement in normalizing cannabis use for health. Past experiences as a patient and her civil rights background made her passionate about educating people about cannabis thereby creating safe access and also inspired her to create a compassionate consulting training program for those in the medical cannabis industry and beyond.
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I am an educator, writer and policy/patient advocate.
At home in San Francisco, I am the vice-chair of the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force, and the Public Education Officer at The Apothecarium where I teach a weekly series of classes on cannabis education. My cannabis specialization/passion is cancer related symptom management therapies. In July I will start teaching a series of cannabis education workshops that I created for San Francisco City College’s Continuing Education program covering cannabis basics, history, law, and politics. I also write for Cannabis Now.
I travel the US lecturing about cannabis, helping lawmakers establishing programs in states other than California to better understand the importance of safe access to cannabis in many forms, and train cannabis professionals on compassionate consulting for critically ill patients.
In my private practice, I work with healthcare providers and their patients as both an educator and consultant.
How has Cannabis influenced or affected your life?
I started using cannabis regularly after I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer and was going through treatment.
Cannabis not only helped me through my cancer, it helped me heal by helping others find relief as well. To be able to help others through critical illness has been both humbling and a gift. I am immersed in my heart’s work and feel so lucky to have found something that has made such a profound impact on both my life and the lives of others.
What did you do before you got involved in the cannabis industry?
Before I became involved with cannabis I worked as an operations manager for nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area that helped marginalized populations through financial empowerment and civil rights work. I still have that same passion for civil rights and empowerment of the disenfranchised and I get to do it in a more direct way now.
How were you introduced to Cannabis?
I experimented with cannabis in my youth and was first introduced to medical cannabis during my treatment for stage 3 colon cancer. Cannabis helped get me eating, managed my anxiety and pain and kept me off a lot of pharmaceuticals that would have had negative side effects during my treatment.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness encompasses body, mind, and spirit. It’s about good health and good health practices. It’s about creating realistic boundaries between work and life, managing stress and feeling empowerment. Cannabis can play a role in helping create the balance.
What is your self-care routine? Do you incorporate cannabis into your routine and how?
My work is intense so self-care is of the utmost importance. I make a point of finding time for myself to just be and also spend time with those I love- both are incredibly recharging. I take time to be present and creative with my music. I make sure I stay hydrated and nourished. I give myself permission to say no and create healthy boundaries. I don’t give time to negative energy and I don’t take myself too seriously.
I use cannabis in my daily routine to create homeostasis and help with pain management. I have residual peripheral neuropathy that I manage using high CBD to THC ratios in capsule form so I experience relief without getting high during the day. After hours I like to relax by smoking indicas. If I’m working on music, I’ll use a sativa dominant hybrid.
Pro tip: Cannabis baths are the best for pain, cramping, and unwinding at the end of the day.
What is your favorite way to use Cannabis? Do you have a favorite strain and why?
I’m old-school in my cannabis consumption- I love to roll and smoke joints. One of my favorite strains is called Burkle, which is a Bubba Kush / Purple Urkle cross- smoking it just lets the stress of the day just fall off your shoulders and is very creative.
What impact do you think Cannabis will have on women’s health?
CBD ratios, in particular, are awesome for managing periods especially PMS and dysmenorrhea. It’s also helping with menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.
Why is education so important in the cannabis movement?
Education is so incredibly important in the cannabis movement. Whether you are looking at it recreationally or medicinally, it is still a substance that creates a reaction in the body. People have a hard time understanding that everyone metabolizes cannabis differently and that taking charge of your health entails monitoring how cannabis affects you as an individual so you can find your proper dosage- one size does not fit all. There is also a lot of misinformation out there. We not only have to bridge the education gap with consumers, but also healthcare professionals and those working in the industry so they can be educators too. Education leads to normalization.
How to connect with Sara:
You can learn more about Sara by visiting www.sarapayan.com.
Articles on Cannabis Now.
Watch Sara's video interview: Medication: Meet Patient Sara Payan
Watch Sara's cancer story: Sara's Story: Cancer, Cannabis & The Apothecarium
Sign up for Sara's free cannabis education events hosted by The Apothecarium.