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Phoenix city council rejects tax on medical marijuana for public safety

Posted: 10:41 PM, Oct 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-03 07:36:15-04

A proposal in front of the Phoenix City Council to tax the medical marijuana industry to pay for public safety upgrades garnered a lot of debate and discussion but did not advance at Tuesday's meeting.

The city is facing budget shortfalls that are impacting police and fire departments. Phoenix currently has 2859 sworn officers. Philadelphia, a similarly-sized city, has roughly 6,600, according to the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association's Ken Crane.

Phoenix firefighters have also raised concerns about a lack of manpower and increasing response times as the city grows.

Council members floated various ideas on where to find more money in the budget for more police officers and firefighters, but the most vocal opposition came from advocates of medical marijuana. 

Pam Blackburn brought her adopted daughter Melissa to the meeting. Beaten badly as a toddler, Melissa is unable to see, walk or feed herself and relies on medical marijuana to survive.

"She's been given a new chance at life and we have been given our daughter back," Blackburn said. "Medical marijuana has done that."

The measure was eventually voted down unanimously.