Al Olson Leaves NBC News To Head Marijuana News Site

08/18/2014 06:10 pm ET | Updated Aug 19, 2014
Marijuana.com

Veteran journalist Al Olson has left his senior editor position at NBC News to head Marijuana.com, a cannabis news site.

“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,” Olson said in a press statement.

He took over as managing editor of Marijuana.com on Monday and, according to the press release, will primarily be in charge of the site's expanding editorial coverage of marijuana-related news as well as building a reporting team for the news site.

"For the last three and a half years I've taken this deep dive into this marijuana industry and movement and just what is happening to this country -- I think this is a real interesting time for America," Olson told The Huffington Post. He noted that he has been a recreational pot user for more than 40 years, is a Washington state medical marijuana card holder and has watched a number of friends and family members benefit from using medical marijuana to treat various conditions.

For the remainder of the year, Olson will be based in Washington state, covering its burgeoning recreational market, but then will relocate to California. Marijuana.com is owned by dispensary locator service WeedMaps, which is headquartered in Irvine, California.

Olson, who spoke to HuffPost from Marijuana.com's Denver office, said that, in practice, he'll be splitting his time among Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles and other cities. "Basically, I'll be going wherever the marijuana story takes me," he said.

A journalist with more than 40 years of experience, Olson began his career at daily print newspapers in California. In 1995, he left print to become one of the founding editors of MSNBC.com. For nearly 20 years, he has been an online journalist for various NBC News brands, including NBC.com, CNBC.com and Today.com

"We're going to shake things up a little bit, have some fun," Olson said. "We're going to tell stories in a new and exciting way and not in the mainstream way. It kind of angered me, frankly, to see how mainstream media is covering this issue. There has been a real lack of understanding of what was happening here. I'm very excited to do this."

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