Earlier this month, candidate for Mayor of Phoenix, Nicholas Sarwark, wrote an open letter to the current interim mayor, Thelda Williams, about the proposed $50 million tax on cannabis proposed by the city.  We publish it here with Mr Sarwark’s permission.

Dear Mayor Thelda Williams,
CC: Phoenix City Council

I write to you today to emphatically oppose the proposed tax on the medical marijuana industry and the over 100,000 sick and suffering patients who live in Phoenix.

First, I want to make clear that I have no financial interest in the cannabis industry nor do I hold an Arizona medical marijuana card. Also, to date I have not received any contributions from the cannabis industry to my campaign for Mayor of Phoenix.

This proposal is nothing like the “Denver tax”. The tax levied by the City of Denver is a 3.5% sales tax on recreational purchases. It is not a license fee, permit fee, or transportation fee. It also is not applied to medical sales. Because Denver understands that taxing the medicine legally used by sick patients is grotesque.

This is a shakedown and these desperate and ill patients make an easy target for your bullying. You wouldn’t dare try to swindle an extra $560,000 a year from each CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart in Phoenix. Yet those businesses have significantly more calls for service than the entire Arizona medical marijuana industry combined.

These dispensaries, under Phoenix zoning rules, have been relegated to industrial zones and wastelands. The zoning restrictions are already making it difficult for patients to receive their lawful medications in a safe and efficient manner. Many of these industrial areas don’t even have sidewalks. Why are you trying to make it even harder for patients to get their medication?

The fact that this proposal has been fast tracked and blocked from the normal committee process, where industry leaders and patient advocates could have a say, illustrates that you do not believe this scheme would survive a transparent and open process. Or at least the new makeup of the council, come March.

Trying to fill a $500 million funding gap by extorting $50 million a year by picking the pockets of the poorest and sickest among us is both cruel and lazy, regardless of what your polls say.

Your inability to balance a budget and set spending priorities focused on core city services, like public safety, libraries, clean and reliable water, and our parks, does not create a revenue emergency for the taxpayers who have entrusted you with the city checkbook or the patients who are just trying to meet their healthcare needs.

If recreational usage comes to Arizona, we can have an open and transparent revenue conversation. Until then, stop trying to profit off of the suffering of Phoenicians, broken veterans with PTSD, cancer patients, HIV/AIDS patients, or the terminally ill.


Nicholas Sarwark
For Mayor of Phoenix

News Growl maintains an open submissions policy and will happily consider responses to Nicholas Sarwark’s letter, or well-written opinions on other subjects from candidates and concerned citizens alike. For more information please see our Write for Us page.


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