El Monte, CA – The City of El Monte has been recognized for its efforts in promoting public health, protecting youth, and advancing social equity in the cannabis industry. According to the 5th annual State of Cannabis Report by Getting it Right from the Start, a project of the Public Health Institute (PHI), the City of El Monte scored 49 points, on a 100-point scale, making it the third highest-scoring city in the state.
"I take great pride in the dedicated efforts of our City staff, ensuring that the funds generated from cannabis sales tax are directed towards programs focused on educating our youth and young adults about responsible cannabis use," stated El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona. "Drawing from my experience as a former educator, I've witnessed firsthand the impact of cannabis on our youth. It's truly gratifying to see El Monte recognized as one of the top three cities taking proactive measures to address these crucial issues. I encourage other cities that have legalized cannabis to implement similar programming and prioritize the well-being of their youth."
The scorecard measures the adoption of key policies by cities and counties that allow cannabis retail sales and is based on six categories: retailer requirements, taxes and prices, product limits, marketing, smoke-free air, and equity and conflicts of interest.
The City of El Monte's high score is attributed to several actions, including dedicating tax revenue to youth programs and addiction prevention, which helps protect youth. The City of San Luis Obispo (SLO) scored the highest of all jurisdictions, with 51 points.
"I am extremely proud that the City has been recognized for our efforts to promote public health and safeguard our youth since legalizing the sale of cannabis in 2019. With the direction of City Council, we have been able to double down our commitment to addressing challenges associated with the legalization of cannabis,” shared Alma Martinez, El Monte City Manager. “We remain steadfast in our mission to set an example for responsible cannabis practices, youth education, and robust enforcement of regulations to ensure a positive impact on our community's well-being."
Despite examples of localities like El Monte that have made significant strides in addressing public safety issues associated with the legalization of cannabis, many have not yet opted to go beyond basic state law to promote public health, protect youth, or advance social equity. The statewide average score remains a paltry 22 of 100 possible points across all jurisdictions allowing storefront retailers and 12 for those allowing sale only by delivery. This is especially concerning in light of new data showing increases in harmful patterns of cannabis use, including a tripling of daily or near daily use by California adults and a near doubling of cannabis use during pregnancy over the past decade.
In April 2023, the City was awarded a $3 million grant from the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to support the city’s Commercial Cannabis Permit Program, the development of drug prevention programs targeted towards youth, and support the El Monte Police Department in enforcing laws and regulations of both legal and illegal cannabis operators in the City.
The City allocated monies from the grant to focus on three key areas:
1. Establish the first-of-its kind Commercial Code Enforcement and Community Service Officer positions to improve the City’s Commercial Cannabis Program and serve as liaisons between the City and stakeholders
2. Develop cannabis awareness programs targeted towards El Monte at-risk youth, specifically in most vulnerable census tracts and adjacent to cannabis operators
3. Increase El Monte Police Department’s bandwidth to proactively enforce both illegal and legal cannabis operators citywide
The City looks forward to being a model for promoting the responsible use of cannabis, educating our youth, and enforce the laws and regulations of both legal and illegal cannabis operators in the city.