Developing Model Marijuana Ordinances & Other Tools to Support Communities


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PHI's Getting it Right from the Start builds on decades of public health experience in policy on harmful but legal products to develop model ordinances and options to educate cities and counties to better balance protection of youth from harmful health impacts with the equity impacts of decriminalization.

72 key stakeholders interviewed to help inform the program's model ordinances

540 California cities & counties provided with information on the model ordinances and other resources

347 TA activities with local jurisdictions throughout California

In 2017, PHI’s Lynn Silver launched the Getting it Right from the Start: Local Regulation of Recreational Marijuana project to develop and test policies and recommendations with the goal of preventing use among youth and reducing harms related to marijuana use. The project carries out research in locations where recreational use has already been legalized, and has developed tools such as model local ordinances for licensing, marketing and taxation that can be used by representatives of jurisdictions considering legalized recreational use.

After conducting in-depth interviews with 72 key stakeholders, the program worked with key legal partners to develop a California-based model ordinance on retail and marketing, and two ordinances on taxation. For example, their sample ballot initiative for local taxation of marijuana is designed to help discourage high potency products and youth use, and provide sustained financial support to local efforts to create healthier and more equitable communities and prevent substance use. The resource is meant to be used as a starting point for local communities in developing their own local policies.

The project reached out to all 540 California cities and counties with information on the model ordinances and other resources, and provided one-on-one support on over 347 technical assistance activities, including with San Francisco, LA, Kern, Humboldt, San Mateo, Riverside, Sonoma, Ventura, Solano, Alameda, Mono, Contra Costa and Shasta Counties, and Long Beach, Culver City, Emeryville, Mammoth Lakes, Placerville, and Berkeley cities. Findings from the project have also been presented at national and state-based conferences.

Getting it Right from the Start is also developing a brief for state and local governments on regulation of marijuana rooted in principles of public health and equity, as well as a policy report (produced with Youth Forward) on the use of local taxation revenue in California, which documents how revenues are primarily being channeled to law enforcement—rather than investment in communities, youth or public health.

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