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Marijuana.com, a cannabis news and community source owned and operated by Weedmaps, the world’s leading listings and review site for marijuana dispensaries, announced today that Al Olson, former senior editor of CNBC, NBC News and TODAY, has joined the publication as Managing Editor. Olson will be tasked with leading the site’s editorial coverage, building its reporting team, expanding coverage areas and developing content partnerships.
Olson, a journalist with nearly 40 years of experience in mainstream print and online media, and a long time advocate for marijuana legalization, will help to further solidify Marijuana.com as the go-to source for marijuana news and analysis, including marijuana’s impact on society, health, entertainment, sports, business, politics and international affairs.
“With the recent adoption of medical and recreational legalization nationwide, we’re seeing a greater need for accurate and consistent marijuana coverage,” said Justin Hartfield, CEO of Weedmaps. “It is extremely important that we stay at the forefront of all developments in the industry and Al is the perfect person for the role. He has deep experience managing a team, directing editorial coverage and implementing content strategies. We’re thrilled to have Al join as the head of Marijuana.com, and look forward to his continued success.”
Olson began his illustrious journalism career working at a handful of daily newspapers in California, including the San Jose Mercury News, where he was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. In 1995, he left the world of print journalism to join the launch of MSNBC.com as one of its founding editors. Since then, Olson has spent most of the past 19 years pioneering online journalism at NBC.com, CNBC.com and TODAY.com.
“I’ve been a journalist for as long as I’ve been a marijuana advocate – my first byline was at the age of 14, the same age I smoked my first joint,” said Olson. “Since then, I’ve been frustrated with the uneven media coverage of the marijuana industry. I don’t think the mainstream media has done a good enough job covering it, which is why I’ve joined Marijuana.com — to give the subject the coverage it deserves. I look at it the same way I did when I left my job at the San Jose Mercury News, which I loved, for the chance to be an online pioneer.”
Initially, Olson will be based out of Washington state, covering its new recreational market; next year, he will be relocating to California. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Francisco State University.
“Growing up as a young journalist, two of my heroes were Walter Cronkite and Hunter S. Thompson. I admired Cronkite’s integrity and Thompson’s dramatic flair,” said Olson. “Although these two journalists were on opposite ends of the news spectrum, both understood that the War on Drugs was a colossal failure. My goal is to make both of my heroes proud of the journalism we will produce at Marijuana.com.”