Dr. Sharon Olson grew up in Texas during the resurgence of Reefer Madness and in the era of questioning authority, the 60s. Olson was driven to achieve in school and stayed away from the drugs that were constantly being scrutinized during the time. She began to question the war on marijuana in her mid-twenties. She started asking people, like her friends and her husband, if they had ever smoked marijuana, and the resounding answer was “yes”. She saw a clear discrepancy between the conflicting cultures and opinions on drugs at the time, which led her to dig deeper into what cannabis had to offer. Dr. Olson truly began to dive into the world of medical marijuana in the 80s and 90s when the efficacy of the plant to treat various ailments became more well-known across medical communities.
Dr. Olson sees medical marijuana as a safe alternative to many of the formal pharmaceuticals that are on the market today,
“There are expected negative effects of taking traditional medication and people who have these negative effects are just given another western pharmaceutical drug to treat those side effects. Scientists working with marijuana have extracted over 100 medicines, that when properly combined, can nullify the negative effects of cannabis while delivering the desired response. So patients are more likely to receive exactly what they want from marijuana without added side effects. ”
Dr. Olson’s knowledge of the medical marijuana field sets her apart from many of her counterparts. She has been involved in the field for many years and has kept up with the fast changing pace of the industry. Above all, Dr. Olson sees that her job is,
“to let people know health and wellness, this is the one life we have to live and everyone deserves to have the best experience they can have. That doesn’t mean a long broken down life due to western drugs.”
Dr. Olson has been able to follow the medical marijuana industry from its humble beginnings to the highly scientific breakdown of the plant that we see today. She sees the best advance in the industry as the ability to pull specific cannabinoids out of marijuana to be used to treat specific conditions. She also applauds the purity of new extraction methods, “When cannabinoids were first extracted the extraction methods were solvents that left contaminants in the medication, but the new level of purity with CO2 extraction will revolutionize the way the industry continues.” Just because the industry is advancing positively and quickly doesn’t mean Dr. Olson doesn’t have specific recommendations for her patients. She is a huge advocate for organic (pesticide-free) and mold free strains of medical marijuana,
“The way the marijuana is grown and handled is critically important because we are administering medication to the blood stream. Chemicals that are being used, such as pesticides and herbicides, attach directly to fat molecules. That means that they can attach to the fat molecules in the medical marijuana and they can be a carried from the plant into our bodies. We don’t want those chemicals in the medicine or our bodies. In pushing the industry for higher standards, we are coming up with improved and well screened medicines that can be used with surety.”
Whats one thing that Dr. Olson sees lacking in the industry? A TV commercial.
“I look forward to the day when we have a commercial on TV. Thats the only way I think we can overcome bad publicity, when patients see a commercial on TV and realize that we’re not having to list 20 or 30 bad side effects with medication. As a physician, I was horrified to find out we are not given all the information about what medication we choose to use for ourselves. In other words, a common medication is non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. It was the Lancet in England that came out with the finding that if you ever take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, ibuprofen, aleve, or even aspirin, you may have increased your chance for a stroke. Most people would think twice, knowing that what we have been told is a benign medication could cause a stroke. People are looking for less dangerous medicines that they can take and feel safe about. The regulation of the cannabis industry is more strict, so it has to be much more honest about its products compared to the pharmaceutical industry.”
Dr. Olson sees the importance of medical marijuana being compared with all the medications we take on a regular basis so people can get an unbiased view of how medical marijuana really affects our bodies compared to everything else we take. Dr. Olson is concerned about the medical industry as a whole, she wants people to be educated and understand that patients should have the ultimate say in what they are allowed to do with their body. People should look into every product they are putting into their body and not just default to what is the normal course in the medical industry.
Dr. Olson also had a few words of advice for people who are new to medical marijuana, “Start low and go slow. I think most people in the industry are going to caution all patients to start with a low dose and go very slowly administering higher doses. I tell them the first time they use cannabis is like no other time, so their reaction the first time does not need to be their judgement of how their going to respond to the medication in the future”. Dr. Olson also advocates for the use of medical marijuana products that do not need to be smoked. She sees topical products as a great starting point for first time users of medical marijuana, because it will provide pain relief without any physco-active effects. Dr. Olson sees medical marijuana as another aspect of the medical field that can help suffering patients know wellness.