At Sativa Science, our mission is to provide ethically sourced, science-driven data to enhance the safety and well-being of cannabis users. We strive to provide all clients the information they need to create individualized, effective, precision medical treatments, which generates sustained positive outcomes.


This is the story of two separate but complementary groups coming together to create an “entourage effect” for scientific legitimacy and structured process to connect the medical cannabis and insurance industries for better patient clinical outcomes.

The scientific storyWhen neurologist Dr. Thomas Swanson opened his Montana Comprehensive Epilepsy Program in Missoula 13 years ago, he was surprised by the swelling numbers of patients asking him about medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms associated with epilepsy and several other neurological disorders. Despite decades of treatment experience, Dr. Swanson could find little to no information regarding medical cannabis. This alarmed him, especially in Montana where medical cannabis has been legalized since 2004.

“I was immediately concerned about the scarcity of scientific evidence guiding the use of cannabis products. There was no information to guide dosing or strain-choice, and cannabis discussions took up more and more of my visit time with patients.”

Dr. Swanson knew a solution was needed.

His first instinct was to confide in colleagues across the country. As a seasoned clinician with experience in patient care, pharmaceutical trials, disease exploration and investigative grants, Dr. Swanson had a surplus of researchers and physicians to connect with. However, his concerns were validated as his colleagues reported that their patients could access and select medical cannabis without any form of scientific evidence. The height of Dr. Swanson’s concern was rooted in the absence of tracking adverse effects, the scarcity in monitoring efficacy in regards to strain and dosage, limited scientific studies on specific cannabinoid effects, and the lack of knowledge about drug-drug interactions behind the cannabis prescriptions.

Dr. Swanson promptly enlisted his son, Mark Swanson, to develop the solution. Mark, a computer programmer and web designer devised a cloud-based, scientific tracking system to catalogue and analyze client use of medical cannabis. Mark has drawn from his extensive experience designing tools and programs for medical research, programs used by the University of Michigan Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine and the Wisconsin based company Earthling Interactive. This background has given Mark the expertise to create our program, Lumina, the first science-based Cannabis Electronic Medical Records (CEMR) system.

The insurance story … Workers’ Compensation first reimbursed an injured worker for their medical cannabis in 2014 ( Vialpando v. Ben’s Automotive Services, New Mexico). That piqued the interest of Mark Pew, working since 2003 to address the over-prescribing of opioids and other painkillers. He used his large platform in the marketplace to start a dialogue whether cannabis was something payors should consider. Since that time, the growth in the use of medical cannabis in work comp mirrored the growth in societal acceptance and legal state medical cannabis programs. Mark immediately recognized the problem with how medical cannabis was being handled by payors. The injured worker drove the process by securing a recommendation from a clinician, registered as a patient with the state (if required), selected their own product without any standard of care, paid with their own money, and self-assessed the efficacy of treatment. The only time payors got involved was in being presented a receipt for reimbursement. Work comp payers are responsible for overseeing and paying for medical treatment, but in this case they had no control over the process, quality, price, dosing or assessment of appropriateness. Mark labeled this as a “blank check.” This was the complete opposite of how all other medical treatment is provided to injured workers.

In December 2019, Mark spoke with Ken Paradis, a repeatedly successful entrepreneur with a reputation for offering paradigm shifts to the work comp industry. They discussed ways that medical cannabis could be managed like every other treatment option in work comp to provide control and legitimacy to the process. In August 2020 they brought Peter Belsito onto the team because of his expertise and connections in the cannabis industry and work comp marketplace. Together they built a business plan to create a Cannabis Benefits Management (CBM) business that mirrors the PBM approach to managing pharmaceutical drugs. Mark Pew met Mark Swanson at the MjBizCon event in Las Vegas in October 2021 because of the Lumina platform and the scientific credibility offered by Dr. Swanson and his Advisory Board.

The whole is greater than its parts in the merger of science & technology with insurance & sales that created a solution to the lack of standard of care and transparency in the management of medical cannabis – Sativa Science!


Thomas Swanson, MD, FAES
Chief Science Officer, co-founder

Tom has been a practicing physician for more than 30 years as well as owned and managed several neurology clinics in multiple states including the Montana Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. He has extensive experience in using cannabis to treat a variety of neurological conditions.

His distinguished career includes a residency at the Mayo Clinic and the prestigious Dana Neuroscience Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied small molecule actions in human and animal brains. Dr. Swanson went on to direct an NIH-funded basic science laboratory and has been the leading investigator on several pharmaceutical clinical trials in the epilepsy space. He is a designated “key opinion leader” and past PAB member for Supernus, GSK, UCB Pharma, Liva Nova, and Sunovion pharmaceutical companies.

Tom holds a BS in Biology from Eastern Michigan University (1979) and an MD from Wayne State University School of Medicine (1986).

Mark Swanson
Chief Technology Officer, co-founder

Mark designs and leads all technology-related projects, including Lumina, our proprietary database and cannabis standard-of-care software. Previously, he was a Consultant to the University of Michigan’s Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, designing their patient interface research tools. While at the Wisconsin-based Earthling Interactive, Mark supervised the electronic medical records development team.

Mark holds a BA in Asian Studies from the University of Michigan (2009) and speaks fluent Japanese.