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.

Support AB 1207 – The Cannabis Candy Child Safety Act!

Getting it Right from the Start, March 2023

As California’s legal cannabis market matures, exposure to cannabis marketing, and the range of cannabis products, have grown with it. Laws and regulations must also evolve alongside this new market to ensure the safety of our children and youth. Please join the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Public Health Institute and Youth Forward in supporting AB 1207 by signing our support letter!

The impact of Virginia's new proposed hemp restrictions

WUSA TV, February 28th, 2023

Getting it Right from the Start’s Dr. Lynn Silver is featured in a WUSA-TV report on a Virginia bill, if signed by the governor, would restrict Delta-8 THC gummies and prevent manufacturing and sale of most existing hemp products meant for pain and anxiety relief with any THC in them. Dr. Silver: “Some of these products have way more THC in them than legal cannabis edible would…”

Are Local Cannabis Policies Protecting Us?

Getting it Right from the Start, November 2nd, 2022

Today, Getting it Right from the Start, a project of the Public Health Institute (PHI), released its 4th annual Local Cannabis Policy Scorecards, which track and evaluate policies passed by cities and counties that allow legal cannabis retail sales. “The legal market in California has grown enormously and is now stabilizing,” noted pediatrician Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, who heads PHI’s Getting it Right from the Start program. “Yet, the state and many local jurisdictions still failed to put in place the guardrails necessary to protect youth and public health. These scorecards provide a clear roadmap for cities and counties to meet this moment.”

Editorial: Legal Pot Needs Better Warning Labels

By Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2022

Giving consumers more information about the risks of using cannabis is smart policy that will ultimately help legal actors distinguish themselves from the thriving black market. The Legislature should send Gov. Gavin Newsom SB 1097 so he can sign it into law.

Landmark California Cannabis Right to Know Bill Torpedoed by Industry Power

Getting it Right from the Start, August 22, 2022

“Today, even as cannabis use by youth once again hit an all-time high, the cannabis industry’s growing influence over legislation succeeded in preventing the public from accessing basic information about the health hazards of cannabis use and simple steps to use it more safely,” said Dr. Lynn Silver, pediatrician and Director of Getting it Right from the Start, at the Public Health Institute.

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
555 12th Street, Ste 290
Oakland, CA 94607

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.