Getting it Right from the Start

Advancing Public Health & Equity in Cannabis Policy


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We have conveyed our research into best practices

Basic Principles of Action

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

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.

OPPOSE (Unless Amended) AB 2223 (Aguiar-Curry) - Cannabis: Industrial Hemp

Highly intoxicating hemp products are being legally sold across California available to children and youth at a wide range of businesses without age restrictions and packaged with bright colors, cartoons, and enticing flavors. Tell your representatives to oppose this bill unless amended to include a hard limit on THC & a prohibition on these untaxed products entry into cannabis stores.


OPPOSE AB 1775 (Haney) - Protect Californians & Smoke-Free Air

By allowing licensed cannabis retailers permitted for on-site cannabis consumption to also prepare & sell non-cannabis foods & beverages, AB 1775 will take us back in time to the era of smoke-filled bars and restaurants, undermining decades of progress in smoke-free air. Please tell your representatives in the California Legislature to OPPOSE AB 1775!


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.

They say the devil is in the details.

We’re here to help.

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.

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.