by PETER JACKSON, Associated Press, Daily Local News, 03/15/14
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Marijuana was the issue that set John Hanger apart from the other Democratic candidates for governor, and proponents of legalizing the drug for medical purposes in Pennsylvania credit him with drawing attention to their cause before he dropped out of the race this week.
Hanger supported the medical pot proposal, but he also was the only candidate to advocate the more radical step of legalizing the drug statewide — a proposal he put on even footing with issues of wider appeal such as creating jobs and improving public schools.
“Schools not jails, jobs not jails, legalize and tax marijuana right now!” is how Hanger summed up his platform at a forum during last month’s Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.
No one expects Pennsylvania to legalize the drug anytime soon — Colorado and Washington state are the only two that have done that — but sponsors of a leading medical marijuana bill in the Legislature said Hanger’s emphasis on marijuana helped elevate public awareness of the issue.
“As far as getting the word out on a statewide basis … it didn’t hurt at all,” said Sen. Mike Folmer, a conservative Republican from Lebanon County and the bill’s prime sponsor.
“It gave the issue attention and it certainly galvanized” the parents of sick children who say marijuana could provide relief that conventional medicines have not, said co-sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery. “John Hanger was a hero to them.”…
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