Since winning the grand prize of $100K on Big Brother Canada Season 3 Sarah Hanlon has proudly donned her public persona as a cannabis enthusiast. In a recent article she penned for Leafly, Sarah writes about the connection between to her two passions, “Pop Culture and Pot Culture,” two things others often belittle as being “for lazy people.” She writes, “I was sick of being told what was supposed to be meaningful and smart— both were valid parts of me and I wasn’t going to hide it anymore.”
Sarah is contributing to a narrative that’s bigger than just her personal story — one that looks critically at how the conversation around cannabis is changing, and who gets to be a part of that dialogue.
Writer, Cannabis Educator
Big Brother Winner
When I auditioned for Big Brother I was working at a cannabis lounge in downtown Toronto. The casting director asked me point blank, “So you smoke a bunch of weed then?” And in the moment, I thought, if I’m going to be on a reality TV show where they film you 24 hours a day seven days a week, I’m going to have to be fully myself. So without skipping a beat I said, “You know what? I sure do.”
I have a prescription for cannabis for some pretty serious stomach issues and back issues, but I’m very vocal that cannabis is not just my medicine — I find it pleasurable, too. Adults have a right to enjoy things and seek pleasure. I should get to decide what I put in my body. Even if I wasn’t “sick,” I would still use cannabis. My stomach issues are just what brought me to it and helped open my eyes about the many applications and benefits cannabis offers.
My biggest hope is that legalization will help change seep through multiple levels of society. When more people have access to cannabis, more will experience the therapeutic benefits that come with using it recreationally or medicinally.
Some people are worried about the stigma of using cannabis, but for some, there’s the legitimate fear of being arrested, or having their children taken away or losing a job. ”
The story is more complicated when we talk about equal access, and equal rights. Some people are worried about the stigma of using cannabis, but for some, there’s the legitimate fear of being arrested, or having their children taken away or losing a job. When we talk about decriminalization, we have to look to the communities which have been most affected by the laws surrounding cannabis use. There’s not only one narrative here, there’s a multi-layered story of where we’ve been, where we are hoping to get to, and all of the intersections of oppression that have existed around cannabis for a very long time in our society.
With all of these challenges, there are also big opportunities for change, and for progress. That’s really cool. It’s a pivotal time to be a part of the conversation.
Photography by Angela Lewis
Because I was open about my cannabis use on TV, there are so many people who will reach out to me to share their story, which is really moving to me but also breaks my heart, because I know they likely don’t feel like they have anyone in their life to talk to.
They’ll ask me about their family member’s pancreatic cancer. Everything from that to post-traumatic stress. They want advice, but I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor. I wish there were more resources for the public to get their questions answered without judgement.
Cynthia Nixon – I follow Cynthia Nixon on Instagram and she’s incredible. Her messaging synthesizes everything from pop culture and using pop culture as like a power-tool to be an activist and get things done. On the cannabis front, she brings up the important points like the fact that cannabis is first and foremost a racial justice issue. I think people should be paying attention to Cynthia Nixon.
Amanda Siebert – is an inspiring freelance writer and author of The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life, available on October 17th.
Leafly – Leafly has been a lifesaver for me because I feel comfortable telling people to go there when they reach out to ask for advice. The answer to almost every question that people ask me is somewhere on Leafly, whether it’s in a podcast, article or within the strain reviews.