Our Vision and Mission

We envision a society where public policy related to cannabis and other substances protects health and advances equity in all its forms.

We use scientific research to identify and advocate for cannabis policy that advances public health and equity, prioritizing groups vulnerable to harms such as youth. We engage and support partners in our work to ensure that government and industry actions align with these priorities.

Strategies We Use:

  • Scientific Research
  • Policy Design
  • Technical assistance to government and community partners
  • Key audience education
  • Community stakeholder engagement
  • Advocacy
  • Accountability

What We Do

In most states, cannabis legalization has focused mainly on creating a legal profit-making system rather than putting guardrails in place to promote public health, protect youth, and advance social equity.

We provide technical assstance to jurisdictions that are currently regulating cannabis, considering legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis, and to community partners. We develop and share models for safer and more effective cannabis policy, and provide guidance on policies that can reduce harm and prevent problem cannabis use.

We take an evidence-based approach and draw on scientific research, cannabis policy analyses, and lessons from tobacco and alcohol control.

Please contact Aurash Soroosh for more information.

Clinician perspectives on adolescent Cannabis-Related beliefs and behaviors following recreational cannabis legalization

By Kaiser Permanente and Getting it Right from the Start, Science Direct, April 2024

In this new research paper published in Science Direct, we found that clinicians reported a post-legalization rise in teen cannabis use and cannabis-related consequences alongside shifts in norms, access, marketing, and reduced harm perceptions.

Pa. lawmakers consider government-run weed dispensaries. The cannabis industry isn’t happy.

By Penn-Capital Star, April 26, 2024

Getting it Right from the Start’s Dr. Lynn Silver urges Pennsylvania legislature to consider a state-run dispensary system for cannabis, noting, “If you do it wrong, it can take as long to untangle as the harms of the tobacco industry. If you do it more carefully and do it right, I believe it can help you assure a healthier and more just future for your children.”

California hemp products can get you as high as cannabis. How did this happen? | Opinion

By Sacramento Bee, March 21, 2024

This opinion piece in the Bee covers the “shadow industry” of intoxicating hemp-based products emerging in CA that have insufficient rules on how potent product may be, no age restrictions where products sold, and can be purchased throughout state. 

State of Cannabis Report: Are Local Policies Protecting Us?

Getting it Right from the Start, October 31, 2023

Last October, Getting it Right from the Start, a project of the Public Health Institute (PHI), released its 5th annual State of Cannabis Report, tracking adoption of key policies by cities and counties that allow cannabis retail sales. The scorecard scale is 1 to 100. The 2023 range is 0-51 with SLO city and Contra Costa County as top scorers.

Reach Us

Getting it Right from the Start
Public Health Institute
2000 Center Street, Ste 308
Berkeley, CA 94704
P: (510) 344-7221

About Us

We collaboratively develop and test tools for optimal cannabis policy, including model laws, checklists, principles and scorecards for retail practices and marketing. Our goal is for communities to reap the benefit of ending large-scale criminalization of cannabis possession, while effectively protecting vulnerable groups, preventing problem cannabis use, and advancing health and economic equity.

Our initiative works to help build the evidence on what cannabis policy is best for communities, and to support community partners, state and local governments who are seeking the best paths in the context of cannabis legalization.

Please contact Aurash Soroosh for more information.

Want to learn more? Contact us with questions or sign up to join our listserv and/or receive action alerts.