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Phoenix City Council votes against dispensary tax to fund public safety

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

PHOENIX — Phoenix City Council voted Tuesday against a proposal by Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams that would have taxed medical marijuana dispensaries to fund public safety.

The tax would have generated between $25 million and $43.9 million to be put toward police and fire departments.

This led to a contentious exchange between councilmembers and those supportive of medical marijuana, including the mother of a disabled medical marijuana patient who said marijuana saved her daughter’s life.

Those against the tax accused the council of pushing the proposal before sufficient research had been done or enough public notice given.

Dispensary owners claimed the proposed amount of taxes would effectively put them out of business, cutting off access to patients.

Williams Gibbs, cofounder of the Urban Greenhouse Dispensary, said at the meeting that the justification behind the proposal was unfair.

“It’s simply not a good enough reason to harm all of these patients just because you need the money,” he told the council.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio introduced a motion to kill the proposal, which was ultimately passed unanimously.

He suggested that the council meet with medical marijuana supporters and be more transparent about any future attempts to tax the industry.

“Today, the citizens of Phoenix won,” DiCiccio said in a statement. “But they never should have had to fight this fight.”

“I applaud the rest of the council for following my lead today and putting an end to this poorly thought out, badly executed and undemocratic attempt at balancing our books on the backs of sick people,” he said.

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