Fast Five Q&A: Sara Payan, host of Planted with Sara Payan

fast five q&a cover sara payan holds headphones on her head

Cannabis is becoming increasingly normalized across the country, but stigmas still exist. Fortunately, there are more voices than ever working to educate the masses through fun and approachable content meant to inform and entertain. Sara Payan is one of these voices. 

As host of the podcast Planted with Sara Payan, she offers listeners the chance to learn more about the cannabis plant through conversations with policymakers, thought leaders, and celebrities. Past guests have included the late musician David Crosby, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, and New Frontier Data Chief Knowledge Officer Amanda Reiman.

Payan answered five fast questions from GreenState, offering insights on her personal plant journey, the myths that still exist about cannabis, and the ways we can all work toward change.

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GreenState: How did your relationship with cannabis begin?

Sara Payan: My relationship with cannabis started as a precocious teenager. I enjoyed the experience until I smoked something that made me anxious. Back then, due to lack of access, we weren’t talking about cultivars and effects, so I assumed I had a general bad reaction and stopped using it for many years. In college, I revisited it and found it an excellent tool for creativity and relaxation. I was just an occasional user because it was difficult to come by in my small town. 

As an adult, I started using cannabis medicinally after being diagnosed with stage III colon cancer, and it was an eye-opening experience that helped me manage nausea, anxiety, appetite, and pain throughout my treatment. 

GS: What is your favorite method of consumption and cultivar? Why?

SP: My favorite mode of consumption for daytime use is tinctures. I tend to avoid euphoric effects in the daytime as I find them distracting. I enjoy using CBD and CBG-rich tinctures to help focus and create calm in my busy world. In the evening, I like smoking cannabis flowers- the more relaxing, the better! 

Many of my favorite cultivars have been challenging to come by since legalization, but one of my more recent favorites is Cherry Moon, cultivated by Moon Made Farms. Whether cooking dinner, being social with friends, or watching a movie with my husband, it is relaxing, creative, and a great way to wind down the day. And there’s nothing like well-cultivated sun-grown cannabis!

GS: You work tirelessly to normalize cannabis through education and your podcast, Planted with Sara Payan. What inspires you to continue these efforts?

SP: In this era of normalization, it’s important to have frank conversations about the impact of cannabis, including policy, business, and science. I love deep dives with industry leaders, policy giants, and influential luminaries, like Congresswoman Barbara Lee or the late, great David Crosby. 

Drawing our listeners into the conversations, turning them on to new concepts and products, and piquing their curiosity fuels my creative process. Educating the public and highlighting the real stories behind the movement and industry are essential to provoke critical thought, safe access, and impactful change. Cultivating voter engagement is also an important goal, as is approaching cannabis through a bipartisan lens.

GS: Even as stigmas erode, modern reefer madness pervades. What are some common misconceptions about cannabis?

SP: There are more misconceptions than I have room to write. One is that cannabis is a gateway drug. Though we should be mindful of our cannabis use, people have used cannabis as a harm reduction tool to curb their usage of alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and illicit substances. 

Another is that cannabis users are lazy and perpetually stoned. Some of the most productive people I know use cannabis, and not all use it to get high. By the way, a little euphoria can be a good thing in the right place and time! 

GS: You’ve been active in influencing policy in California cannabis. How can consumers be more involved in their local policy efforts and help fight for federal marijuana legalization?

SP: Our lawmakers must understand that they primarily have an outdated view of cannabis consumers and the industry as a whole. As constituents, we must let them know that cannabis consumers are productive contributing members of society who, most importantly, vote! Let your elected officials know that if they don’t support fair cannabis policies, they’ll lose your support. 

For example, when your favorite product disappears from your local dispensary, or you’re angry at how expensive products have become, remember that state policies affect taxation and directly influence safe access and sustainable business. If policymakers don’t hear from us, they have no impetus to act. Vote at the ballot box, vote with your wallet, and reach out to your elected officials.

Sara Payan is an award-winning educator, policy advocate, writer and the host of the “Planted with Sara Payan” podcast. She is an industry leader with over a decade of experience and consults with companies nationwide. Sara creates educational and training opportunities for healthcare, higher learning institutions and the public. As a former civil rights professional, she believes that educating consumers and policymakers makes for safe access, sound policy and equitable industry opportunities. Sara sits on the California Cannabis Advisory Committee and is Chair of the Medicinal Use Subcommittee. 

The answers given by Q&A subjects do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState, Hearst, or its subsidiaries. The subject is solely responsible for the views stated in this piece.


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter