After making marijuana a main issue in the race for Pennsylvania governor, the state's former environmental protection secretary, John Hanger, has withdrawn from the May 20 primary, citing financial difficulties.
"Legalize and Tax Marijuana Now!!! John Hanger for Governor 2014," read one of his billboards.
"I reached the conclusion that the current prohibition policy is a disaster for taxpayers," says Hanger, "a disaster for patients who need medical cannabis. And it promotes racial injustice."
Hanger's three-step pot plan is to first decriminalize marijuana; second, medicalize cannabis; and third, tax and regulate it for all uses.
He was hopes to defeat incumbent Tom Corbett in the primary. Corbett, a Republican, opposes reforming the state's marijuana laws.
The other Democratic candidates are: state treasurer Rob McCord, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Lebanon County commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, former secretary of the Department of Revenue Tom Wolf, former state auditor Jack Wagner, current DEP secretary Katie McGinty, and businessman and former pastor Max Myers.
McCord, Wolf and Myers all favor decrim and medical use.
"The marijuana laws in Pennsylvania are unjust," Hanger tells NORML. "It goes beyond medical marijuana. The criminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana is unjust. It is destroying people’s lives. It is branding them as drug criminals for the rest of their lives. It’s hurting them in a way that three presidents of the United States have not been hurt for their behavior. It is beyond hypocritical… I crafted this three-step reform plan because this will allow PA’s to have confidence in moving through each step."