Getting it Right from the Start

Advancing Public Health & Equity in Cannabis Policy


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They say the devil is in the details.

We’re here to help.
(for FREE!)

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. Our project works with jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis, or are considering legalizing it, to develop and share models for safer and more effective cannabis policy. We provide guidance on policies that can reduce harm, prevent problem cannabis use, and remedy the harms caused by the criminalization of cannabis. We take an evidence-based approach and draw on scientific research, cannabis policy analyses, and lessons from tobacco and alcohol control.

Countering online marketing and user endorsements with enhanced cannabis warning labels

Dr. Sijia Yang School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, Getting it Right from the Start, and Others, March 2024

In a national experiment, we found that pro-cannabis online comments increased product appeal in youth-targeting cannabis online ads, increasing the risk for early and/or habitual cannabis use among adolescents. Using enhanced CWLs helped counter online pro-cannabis marketing and social influences, reducing product appeal and intentions for cannabis use among both adolescents and young adults.

Issue Brief – Complying with SB1186 Principles for Protecting Youth, Public Health, & Equity

Getting it Right from the Start, January 2024

Our new policy brief provides detailed recommendations and guidance for your locality to help determine whether to challenge the new law that overrode the foundational local control principle of Proposition 64 or how to modify your current policies around medical marijuana access to include strong guardrails that protect youth, promote public health, and advance social equity.

State of Cannabis Report: Are Local Policies Protecting Us?

Getting it Right from the Start, October 31, 2023

Today, 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. But despite examples of localities that have led the way, many have not yet opted to go beyond basic state law to promote public health, protect youth, or advance social equity.

Health, Child Advocates Dismayed by Gov. Newsom’s Veto of Bill to Address Child Cannabis Poisonings

Getting it Right from the Start, October 10, 2023

“Today corporate shamelessness won, kids lost. We are shocked and disappointed that the Governor opted to veto AB1207, a widely supported bill to protect children from some of the most egregious marketing practices of the cannabis industry,” said Dr. Lynn Silver, pediatrician and director of Getting it Right from the Start. “Our state now shares responsibility with the cannabis industry for this growing toll, both for failure to enforce existing law and now, for blocking even these basic, sensible added protections endorsed by state legislators.”

We have conveyed our research into best practices

Model Ordinances

Guidance on public health & equity measures that states, cities and counties should consider adopting  if cannabis legalization is under consideration or has already occurred.  Specific models appropriate for California cities and counties are available.

Model Comments & Letters

Utilizing the best scientific evidence, we draft model written and oral comments as well as sign-on letters to advocate for or against proposed cannabis policies.

Basic Principles of Action

Digestible key principles are available to help determine the next steps you can take to improve cannabis policies.

Program Goals

  • Protect children and youth.
  • Support economic equity and social justice.
  • Avert the emergence of a powerful new tobacco-like industry.
  • Protect public health.
  • Minimize problem cannabis use as well as the attendant health and social harms.
  • Mitigate the damage done by the war on drugs.
  • Prevent exacerbation of existing health inequalities that disproportionately affect economically disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations, such as low birth weight, poor mental health outcomes, and lower high school graduation rates.

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 models for optimal cannabis policy (retail practices, marketing, and taxation), based on the best available evidence from scientific research and current best practices, with the goal of reducing harms, protecting youth, preventing problem cannabis use, and advancing social justice as well as economic equity.

We provide technical assistance to jurisdictions that are currently regulating cannabis, jurisdictions that are considering legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis, and to community partners. Please contact Aurash Soroosh for more information.