The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has approved the use of nearly $200,000 in cannabis tax revenue to fund education programs meant to prevent county youths from using the drug.

At the board’s June 27 meeting, county health officials recommended that the $191,821 of projected revenue from cannabis dispensaries in the county in the 2023-24 fiscal year be allocated to youth tobacco and cannabis use prevention programs.

The funding will go toward the expansion of the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education program, which is currently active in 134 schools in the county. The program is currently limited by state law to only addressing youth tobacco use due to its use of Proposition 56 and Proposition 99 state tobacco taxes.

With the new funding from the county, the program can begin youth cannabis prevention education as early as the fall semester, said Dr. Sefanit Mekuria, a county deputy health officer.

YouTube video
A Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) PSA video produced by students in the Redondo Beach Unified School District. (Tobacco Use Prevention Education Program/YouTube)

The program currently partners with local schools to create curriculum for tobacco use prevention programs, training staff in prevention methods and planning education sessions for parents and families. The expansion of the tobacco-use prevention initiative was recommended by the county health department due to its existing capacity and reach.

With funds from cannabis-related taxes, the program can use its existing infrastructure to provide cannabis education programs to 61 percent of schools across the county. According to documents presented at the board meeting Tuesday, the program expects to cover 100 percent of school districts in the county by 2026.

“Our Tobacco Use Prevention Education team has the experience, expertise, reputation, reach and existing relationships with school and community partners to support our local education agencies in effectively addressing cannabis use,” said Lynn Mackey, the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, in a letter in support of the supervisors using the funding for the cannabis youth education program.

Spencer Otte recently graduated from Cal Sate Fullerton, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. At Fullerton, he was the news editor and editor-in-chief of The Daily Titan and covered the 2022 midterm elections, the 2021 Orange County Oil Spill and President Biden’s visit to Irvine. This summer, Spencer was selected to be an editing intern through the Dow Jones News Fund.