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Podcast – Sarah Hanlon – Big Brother Canada – #VeniceSessions

Lucas Giovannetti



GET INTO THE WEEDS PODCAST – Episode 1 – Sarah Hanlon

This session of Get Into The Weeds features Sarah Hanlon, an avid cannabis promoter and winner of Big Brother Canada season 3, where she discusses her thoughts on the public perception and intricacies of cannabis users in today’s world.

You can read our synopsis of the episode below, touching on the important points and discussions raised. We’ve listed the specific timestamps for each venue of discussion and elaborated on the more interesting points of discussion. Of course, feel free to skip ahead to any of these points!


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Background of the Guest: Sarah Hanlon

Writing for an array of cannabis companies, she spreads her public views and thoughts to a large platform and goes into depth regarding the public perception of cannabis users, from daily couch stoners to medical CBD users.

Born and growing up in Brampton, Ontario until 14, she moved and spent a good chunk of her life in Calgary, Alberta. On a whim, she applied to appear on Big Brother Canada, where her openness about her cannabis use ended up gaining tremendous popularity. She ended up winning on that season of Big Brother and used that earned publicity to catapult her cannabis related career forwards.

In her daily duties, Sarah writes for a variety of digital publications such as Leafly, and aims to change cannabis culture as a whole in a way she sees fit. Check out her social media pages and writing by following the links at the bottom of the page!


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In-depth: Discussion Points

Sarah touches on the topic where people have been self-medicating with cannabis for a long time, without even realizing they were using it for medicinal properties. As she puts it “we’re learning the language after the fact, [but] that make it any less true”.

Though using cannabis for medical purposes without the advice of a physician isn’t advisable, self-medication is a viable alternative

While discussing the public perception of mental health problems, she touches on how pop culture and media play such a strong role in creating these perceptions. As it lies, she believes that the way general mental health issues and cannabis is portrayed needs to shift towards a more normalized thing.

Touching on how the terms ‘pot’ and ‘weed’ paints a negative picture due to the ‘Reefer Madness’ hysteria in the past, finding a middle ground will help cannabis become a more socially-normal thing in our society.


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CBD plays a strong role in getting the general public aware and educated about cannabis. On the other hand, she mentions how a strong part of the market is driving towards separating themselves from ‘them, the stoners and potheads’, and instead ‘elevating the cannabis culture’.

Sarah instead believes that there’s not much difference beyond the route of administration when it comes to frequent and daily users. She makes the a strong distinction that whether you’re hitting bongs all day or taking a cannabis tincture, that one isn’t necessarily better than the other, however public perception is vastly different as one person look like a couch stoner and the other as a ‘normal person’.

In a similar way to how prescription drugs, alcohol, opiates are used as coping mechanisms for people undergoing a variety of struggles, Sarah makes a strong point about ‘live and let live’ for people undergoing hardships. Whether someone is taking Zoloft [an antidepressant drug], a 6-pack of beers or bong rips all day, we shouldn’t be ostracizing or judging these people for how they deal with their problems.

It’s a slow and steady process towards cannabis being normalized in society, and Sarah believes her public use of cannabis played a small role into speeding up the process. As she sees it, an abundance of reality TV shows even in places with legal cannabis avoid displaying the use of it, which shows the current state of public perception.

Going forwards, Sarah hopes to see Canada’s legalization impart influence on other countries to move forwards with cannabis legalization. It’s exciting new market and I’m sure we all can’t wait to see where it goes from here!


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Discussion Points and Timestamps

1:15 – A self-introduction and how Sarah’s interest of going onto Big Brother was sparked.

5:50 – Sarah being open about herself and her cannabis use to employers and the casting staff at Big Brother.

7:30 – When and why Sarah began using cannabis.

12:45 – The parallel between other social problems (racism, oppression, etc.) and cannabis use in society and the stigmas attached.

16:00 – How many people use cannabis medicinally without that intention in mind but get an array of benefits in their lives.

17:50 – How misrepresented mental disorders are in today’s pop culture and society and how it’s similar for cannabis use.

19:10 – The enormous effect that language has on the perception of mental disorders and cannabis users, and normalizing the term ‘weed’.

22:50 – CBD as an ‘access point’ towards people becoming aware and interested in cannabis as a whole.

23:20 – Cannabis brands trying to create a separate culture of new cannabis users who distinguish themselves from ‘stoner potheads.

26:30 – How cannabis use is a very personalized thing, and the individual uses can vary drastically between people. The importance of not judging people who use cannabis in different ways.

28:10 – The perception of the different ways people use alcohol compared to the different ways people use cannabis.

31:10 – How Sarah sees people using even CBD incorrectly though it’s perceived to be perfectly alright.

32:10 – How vitamins aren’t quite as wholesome as the food they come from. The parallel between concentrated forms of cannabis and vitamins.

33:40 – Stereotypes of stoners and if they’re even that a negative thing. Discussing how there shouldn’t be shame felt from encompassing these stereotypes.

35:00 – Not passing judgment on people who overuse cannabis, alcohol, opiates or other to get by in their daily lives.

36:45 – Back to how Sarah started applying to Big Brother and her openness of her using cannabis and the whole casting process.

39:30 – How cannabis use is obscured by media even in legal places, and how her openness about cannabis use made people excited that media coverage of cannabis is even happening.

42:55 – How Sarah dealt with being without cannabis during the entirety of the show.

46:45 – Sarah answers the question of if Big Brother actually is stressful.

47:50 – If being open about cannabis use prevented job and life opportunities.

50:05 – Canada’s legalization and the relationship between the United States and other countries.

53:35 – What’s in the future for Sarah in work and life.

If you’re keen on keeping up with the thoughts and ideas of Sarah Hanlon, head on over to her Twitter and Instagram for more! Head on over to her Leafly profile linked below as well to read some of her written works. Sarah Hanlon also speaks in the Mass Nerder Podcast, Episode 101

Sarah Hanlon’s Twitter:

Sarah Hanlon’s Instagram:

Sarah Hanlon’s writing:


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A cutie pie who loves cannabis and all of the joy it brings to the world. He is also the sole creator of the HM original show - "Reefer Madness Returns."