#PAGov: Marijuana Is Not the #1 Issue

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John Hanger has made a noticeable impact in the 2014 Pennsylvania Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, despite being out-raised by the top-four candidates from approximately 2:1 to 13:1. As anybody who follows this race knows, Mr. Hanger has been defined by himself, the media, and his supporters as the “pro-weed candidate” — being the only one out of all eight candidates to support full legalization in the state. And props to him for doing so. Marijuana legalization makes sense. But it is not the number one issue in this primary, and some people need to stop pretending it is — or that it’s even close.

Beyond marijuana legalization, I also support strong issue candidates early-on in primaries, because it forces the likely front-runners to answer certain questions and clarify positions they normally wouldn’t — therefore pushing the field to the left and getting a better sense of where they lie ideologically. These issue candidates, if they cannot garner enough support in the polls or with donations to keep their campaigns afloat, should drop as soon as possible — but after they’ve forced the front-runners to elucidate their policy positions on their preferred issue(s). And if they can accumulate necessary money and support to continue while doing so, then I wish them the best — but if not, step aside so we don’t have a nominee who wins with 15% of the vote.

To be fair to the journalists I’m upset with about how they’re treating this topic, marijuana legalization is a known sexy issue — obviously way sexier than things like pension reform or transportation policy — but candidates like John Hanger, to his credit, have already forced the top-tier candidates to clarify their positions on marijuana. If it wasn’t for him, we likely wouldn’t have such strong commitments from almost every front-runner on their support for medical marijuana legalization. And while medical marijuana legislation is possible if Democrats have a strong 2014 showing across the board in Pennsylvania, full legalization is just not, so why are people treating it like it’s even mildly feasible? And more importantly, why are people treating it like it’s something that should be our new governor’s top priority?

Pennsylvania has huge issues ahead of us. Unions could get hammered by potential upcoming Right to Work (Less) legislation. Our job growth rate is terrible. We have not recovered from Governor Corbett’s massive education cuts. Women’s reproductive rights are under attack. Marriage equality is literally being compared to acts of incest. 700,000 Pennsylvanians are being denying health coverage because of Corbett’s refusal to expand Medicaid. The list goes on-and-on. And, yes, governors have to do more than one thing at once, certainly, but you can only use so much political capital at a time — and I certainly wouldn’t want my governor to put marijuana policy ahead of any of the things on the aforementioned list.

Do I support full marijuana legalization? Absolutely. Would I be excited if it passed in Pennsylvania? Of course. But will I make it in cornerstone in my gubernatorial primary decision-making? Not even close. And I implore others to make the same distinction.

(Final note: For those of you who will say that John Hanger is not a single-issue candidate, I don’t disagree, as he’s outlined other topics — but this is clearly how he is trying to garner support in this race. And Pennsylvania Democrats should focus on more immediate and pressing issues when making their decision.)

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130 Responses to #PAGov: Marijuana Is Not the #1 Issue

  1. This is obviously the issue he’s decided on because he thinks it will raise his profile. Can’t say that I blame him. I don’t see that it’s as big a deal as you make it out to be.

    • Ryan says:

      I don’t think I necessarily “blamed him” either — I actually I said that I get it. And that he’s effectively changed the race because of his position on it, which I appreciate. But I’m getting more-and-more agitated with some journalists and some Democrats who press this issue like it’s even close to what’s most important for Pennsylvania right now — and that John Hanger deserves the nomination because he’s the only one who supports full legalization.

      If people want to support Mr. Hanger as a full candidate, fine — but stop trying to make marijuana legalization the #1 (or the #2 or #3 or #4 or #5) issue. It’s not. And it shouldn’t be.

  2. Bram R says:

    Your paragraph that begins, “Pennsylvania has huge issues ahead of us,” does not mention anything about which the Democratic candidates bear distinctions among each other. Do they? Hanger’s marijuana stance is notable precisely because it is a distinction among Democratic candidates, and it’s fairly popular.

    It’s up to the Democrats to beat this distraction by joining it.

    • Ryan says:

      The candidates agree on most issues — but one of the main points of this post is that it’s not only about distinctions, it’s about prioritization. While candidates agree, I think most would acknowledge that beyond jobs, Schwartz would prioritize reproductive choice, McCord would prioritize pro-labor action, etc.

  3. leilani nemeroff says:

    Max Myers will prioritize respect for each and every Pennsylvanian, along with a statewide moratorium on fracking.

  4. Robert G. says:

    I do not disagree with you that Hanger should be cooling it a bit with the pro-pot agenda, and I’m for it’s complete legalization and support Hanger fully. The state obviously has a plethora of issues confronting it, and while he does have well researched and well thought out policy stances on each, he is known as the weed candidate, which I think is unfortunate.
    However, we should recognize how important the laws surrounding marijuana are. I’m going to assume you would agree that we are incarcerating far too many people for ridiculously small “crimes” (like carrying a joint), and that we are wasting far too much money prosecuting them. That money could go to education, infrastructure, etc. but it is not. This all being said, I think that marijuana and the criminal justice system should be a prime topic in the campaign (granted, along with the others you mentioned). The war on drugs is lost, let’s move forward with wise legislation to save the state money and stop criminalizing non-criminals.

    • Ryan says:

      I do very much support changing marijuana laws — but the point that I would make a decision on a gubernatorial candidate based on weed policy as opposed to electability, fundraising, and other more-pressing issues is crazy.

      • Patte says:

        I absolutely will base my vote for “a gubernatorial candidate based on weed policy as opposed to electability, fundraising, and other more-pressing issues.” Because to me, it IS the most pressing issue. And to the folks who cradle their children while they seize, and seize and seize. Some, hundreds of times a day. And to the folks who walk with pain due to arthritis. And to those with chronic pain from chemo or ms or fibro. And to those with depression to whom it brings just a little ray of sunshine. To them, it is THE issue. There are more of us than you’d think, and within the privacy of the voting booth, we’re poised to Shock the Elites!

        • steventodd says:

          Bravo Patte. And you are far from alone. Rs, Libertarians, Greens and Independents have said they have or will switch their party affiliation for the primary. Will they? Who knows. But if just a tiny fraction who feel even close to how you do switch, we are in, he polls are out and the pundits spend the next week backtracking.

        • Ryan says:

          If that’s your issue, then fine! Obviously I never said it’s not anybody’s number one issue. You are just in the vast, vast minority. Nothing wrong with that. But I think you should be taking other pressing issues into account, including fundraising and electability.

  5. The Dominator says:

    Tell the parents of children with Dravet’s Syndrome that medical marijuana is not the #1 issue.

    Tell the returning vet with PTSD that medical marijuana is not the #1 issue.

    Tell the 18 year old that is serving 3 months in prison for having 2 joints in his pocket that decriminalization is not the #1 issue.

    Tell the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians that having a life sentence by having a criminal record for small possession, that legalizaiton is not the number one issue.

    • Ryan says:

      The assumption that these people would benefit more from a losing Hanger gubernatorial bid and not from somebody who has the money and support to take on Corbett in the fall is nonsense. Corbett will leave these laws as-is, and there have been polls that show John Hanger as the sole losing candidate in a head-on-head with the governor. Not to mention that the top-tier Democratic candidates virtually all favor medical marijuana legalization.

      • Ryan, since you are not listed as a contributor to Keystone Politics in their “About” section, would you care to identify yourself and your credentials?

        There are NOT credible polls showing John Hanger as the sole losing candidate to Corbett. That is a completely unsubstantiated statement.

        The truth is that money will pour into the campaign of THE WINNER of the Democratic Primary for Governor. Period. From far and wide. I matters not if the winner is Hanger, McCord, Schwartz, or Wolf. Most Pennsylvanians want Corbett out of office as do many people across the country who care about Pennsylvania.

  6. Pingback: 1/28 Morning Buzz | PoliticsPA

  7. Valene S says:

    John Hanger isn’t a single issue candidate, and he is refreshingly candid about his positions on jobs, education, energy, the environment, and myriad other topics. His specific proposals have forced other candidates to get specific, something politicians seem loath to do. Marijuana reform may be a sexy issue, but it is also very important to a segment of our population. Any salesperson will tell you that you have to get the customer into the store before you can sell them your product, and Hanger is doing just that.

    • Ryan says:

      This is the best defense of it that you can make when talking about the Hanger candidacy. Though things like the billboards are a bit much — and it doesn’t let the journalists off the hook who are talking about marijuana reform like it’s going to be the centerpiece of our 2014 gubernatorial race.

  8. David M. says:

    While John Hanger’s stance on marijuana reform may not seem like a big deal, it is to the thousands locked up in prisons for low-level crimes. It is important to the sick in Pennsylvania who desperately need the relief that can come only from medical marijuana. It is important considering that other states like Washington and Colorado are already beginning to reap the profits from the sale of this cash crop.

    Pennsylvania needs bold, innovative thinking. The money that the PA Dept. of Revenue could reap from this cash crop could find its way back into sorely needed education programs. John Hanger has made clear his points that Pennsylvania needs to improve its roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects. Pennsylvania needs to make funding for schools from Kindergarten to Doctoral research a priority above and beyond what Governor Corbett has done. Instead of zeroing in on John Hanger for the good he is trying to do, maybe the media could focus more on the Corbett Administration and his half-baked ideas of privatizing liquor sales and ruining union jobs? Far be it from me to tell the press how to do their jobs.

    • Ryan says:

      Part of this article was intended to be directed at the media for thinking that full marijuana legalization should be a top-tier issue in a state where it’s absolutely not going to happen any time soon. I wish it would, but it’s just not. We need a nominee who can beat the governor — and if John Hanger wasn’t literally the only candidate polled who lost to Corbett in one of the most recent polls, I might be more in favor of him, as I like much of his policy. And we also need a nominee who isn’t going to spend a majority of their political capital on something that’s not going to happen — because, let’s face it, the way Mr. Hanger is campaigning, he would have to spend his political capital on this issue even if he is smart enough to know that full legalization isn’t going to happen anytime soon in Pennsylvania.

  9. Dan says:

    No candidate should ever be encouraged or forced to drop out, democracy is about choice not choosing the lesser of two evils! Each individual must decide what their most important issue is. I see full legalization as a way not only to increase revenue but also a way to save money! This can also produce jobs through the hemp industry, all of which will help my top three issues in this race, which are education, healthcare, and the economy!

    • Ryan says:

      Since when were the top three or four candidates choosing between the lesser of two evils? I like all of them quite a bit. The main trouble with having eight or nine candidates in a race is that the Democratic nominee could literally win with 13% of the vote. That is insane. Candidates who are obviously not going to win should step aside to allow their supporters to migrate to a more-likely candidate to make full Democratic unity for the general a better possibility.

      And if you read the article, I completely agree on why legalization is a good idea. It’s just not the #1 issue — by a long shot — and some people should stop pretending it is.

      • Dan says:

        Thank you Ryan the article was read fully, if you would read my comment fully you could see that legalization is not my number one issue either but it can help with issues of greater concern. Also, who cares if the winner receives 13% of the vote? Voters need choice! I see no major differences in many of the candidates. This isn’t high school prom, people need a variety of candidates and vote for who they see fit. That being said, the problem with a large field is the amount of money wasted. I am sure whoever wins the primary at whatever percent will have no problem beating Corbett.

        • Ryan says:

          Democratic unity is not an automatic thing, as much people like you and me might want it to be. It’s much more difficult when people get entrenched in a losing primary battle. For most, it won’t make them vote Republican, but it won’t make them all that enthusiastic for voting for a different Democrat — and if only 13% of the Democratic electorate supported the winner from the get-go, we’re going to have a harder time.

          And I hope you’re right about any Dem beating Corbett, but (a) I think that’s some dangerous, dangerous thinking for Democrats to have — getting too complacent and losing a race we should have won, and (b) There’s at least one Democratic candidate who loses to Corbett according to Quinnipiac.

          • Dan says:

            Thank you for the link! I find poling interesting to follow but sometimes take it with a grain of salt. Many things influence poles (for example sample size, was it conducted online, by mail, or what type of phone, and location) but Quinnipiac is a good source. My bet would be though its can’t be from a progressive audience judging by how high Corbett scored. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but interactive forums like this are needed across the board! Thank you for your response!

      • John Foote says:

        It might be a high priority issue if it meant moving from your home state to find medical help for your epileptic child. Or perhaps a lot of people are moving so they can enjoy more freedom to choose what buzz they prefer without the fear of having a felony record.

      • Pennsylvanians For John Hanger says:

        Hanger will win with 50+%

    • Jon Geeting says:

      They should if having too many candidates in the race prevents the strongest possible nominee from emerging to beat the worst possible Governor.

      • Pennsylvanians For John Hanger says:

        No action on your last article Jon ? Maybe you should write about John Hanger again .

  10. Gloria McVeigh says:

    Have to believe this is the real reason one of the Dem candidates decided to make pot legalization his campaign’s centerpiece:
    Exit polls suggest voters ages 18 to 29 accounted for a noticeably greater share of voters than four years ago in Colorado, Oregon and Washington – all of which voted on marijuana measures. By contrast, this age group made up roughly the same percentage of the electorate nationally this year as it did in 2008.

    • Ryan says:

      Hanger’s certainly using it as an issue to turn out younger voters — and we should be doing all we can to encourage 18-29s to vote as often as possible. Though it’s quite a stretch to think that they (we) would tip the election one way or another as in the 2010 primary, we made up barely 5% of the electorate. That’s a much bigger stretch than a Presidential general election, where you can barely go anywhere without a voting reminder, and youth made up more like 13-14% of the electorate in Pennsylvania.

  11. As John has said, all of these issues are connected.

    First of all, the estimated $350,000,000 saved from incarcerating people possessing small amounts of marijuana and the estimated $200,000,000 revenue from taxing legalized marijuana are a piece of the solution for underfunded education, transportation, and other issues.

    Second, there are not any new, credible polls to show where John stands now in this race. I anticipate a significant increase in his polling numbers in the next few weeks.

    Third, and you did concede this, John is not a single-issue candidate. In fact, John has nearly 30 years of policy experience in Pennsylvania with great accomplishments. He is the ONLY energy expert in this race and using that expertise will be a large piece of how he will drive improvement in Pennsylvania’s economy as Governor. He has clear policy statements on his website for improving education and any other “top of the list” issue that matters in this state.

    It is incorrect to say that as Governor, John Hanger will make marijuana his number one issue. John knows very well what issues are impacting Pennsylvanians the most and I am confident that on day one, he will go to work to address these issues.

    At the same time, while the other candidates have made it quite clear that these issues of individual liberty, marriage equality, full-nondiscrimination, women’s reproductive issues, gun rights, and marijuana legalization will be on the “back burner,” John will not let them languish.

    He will champion all issues, from the ones that are of concern to nearly all Pennsylvanians to the ones that are of concern to Pennsylvanians whose voices are not being heard, those in poverty, minorities, and the LGBT Community.

    Pennsylvanians don’t care one bit about the lame phrase “political capital,” as if the issues that matter to them must be bought and sold (well, arguably they are being bought and sold but this must end). Pennsylvanians DO care that a governor will go to bat for them on all issues, broader and narrower, from day one.

    If any person has the capacity, knowledge, and skills to be the Governor for ALL Pennsylvanians, it is John Hanger.

    • Ryan says:

      I’m saying that if John Hanger somehow won the governor’s race and didn’t make marijuana reform his number one issue, he would have been extremely disingenuous to all of his supporters. At the point when you’re putting up billboards that say nothing about your position besides that we should legalize and tax marijuana, that is your issue.

      And while regular Pennsylvania voters may not care about the phrase “political capital,” other politicians and the media sure do — which is why it’s a phrase to begin with. Just because you may not like it, doesn’t mean that political capital doesn’t exist and doesn’t recede after fighting the wrong battles first.

      • steventodd says:

        The message on a billboard must be limited to what someone driving by at 70 mph can ingest. It would be foolish of any candidate to put their platform, in any order, on a billboard, and that is why I have never seen one. The reader would take in nothing, shrug and forget about it.

        Billboards are additionally extremely costly. If a candidate in this race thinks they could benefit by putting something about education, energy, whatever of their numerous issues on one, I am sure you would see it. The name of the game at this point is differentiation. John’s stance on this issue which is extremely important to many, regardless what the pundits tell each other differentiates him. It is not misleading for him to lead with that point. It is what I would recommend, were I his manager.

        • Ryan says:

          If I were John Hanger’s campaign manager, I would focus more on knocking doors and fundraising rather than spending what little money they have on pro-weed billboards and having their supporters focus almost solely on the Internet.

  12. John Hanger says:

    There are 2 million people in Pennsylvania whose lives have been damaged by the cruel, expensive laws or are threatened by them. For these 2 million, there often is no more important issue. Marijuana arrests are 50% of all drug arrests. African Americans are being arrested at 5 times the rate of whites, though usage is the same. I would hope you and everyone would care–a lot–about correcting that racial injustice. In terms of the budget, this issue is a $500 million per year matter. Important, in other words. Finally, Democrats will not win if they cannot turn out minority and young voters. That’s political math that Democrats must understand is real important or we will lose. Ending mass incarceration, racial justice, medicine for the sick, stopping ruining lives over a joint, $500 million per year of taxpayer funding, creating tens of thousands of legal jobs, and mobilizing voters add up to a top and important issue. At least for a lot of Pennsylvanians. That is why Our People’s Campaign is surging. We are going to shock the elites and that apparently includes you.

    • Ryan says:

      I’m not often called an “elite,” but I guess I’ll take it! As I’m sure you read in the article, I fully support marijuana legalization — so I very much want those points addressed, but not at the stake of losing another gubernatorial race to Tom Corbett or losing out on other issues that are far more pressing to Pennsylvanians.

      And if you “shock” me, then more props to you. Currently, you’re being significantly out-raised by the top four candidates, garnering 8% support in the most recent primary poll, and have been the sole candidate to lose to Corbett in a head-to-head match-up. So while I whole-heartedly agree with you on the substance, electability concerns take precedence — and spending your political capital on full marijuana legalization is, in my view, not a smart way to start your time in office.

      Finally, if you noticed, I gave you much praise in this article for having the front-runners clarify their position on (at least) medical marijuana — something that is actually possible in the near future — which absolutely would not have happened without you. But this is your number one issue, correct? I believe a lot of your supporters (if you read the comments above) do not believe that. They think marijuana is something you’re using to get people in the door, but not your top priority. If that is the case, then your whole campaign (including your new billboards) are pretty disingenuous. But I believe it is your number one issue, and that you’re not being disingenuous, you’re just banking on marijuana legalization being something you can actually fight for and win as governor starting in 2015 — even if most logic (a Republican legislature, PA constituents oppose marijuana legalization 54-38, etc.) disagrees.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Yeah only elites know how to read polls, Ryan!

  13. the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, tying marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, this backwards country can’t get it done in 20 years, ill get it done this year…

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary…nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS that run the south would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already….

    love and freedom forever, youth changing the world

    MARIJUANA SUPER BOWL 2014, free state vs. free state, destiny


  14. Steve says:

    Hanger has nothing to lose and everything to gain with this “hail Mary” pass. There’s not much so far to differentiate the field, so — if all things remain equal in the money and organizational aspects of a campaign — he ain’t goin’ nowhere. (Maybe “Trojan Horse” might be a better analogy; the theory is he rides in on marijuana legalization and once in, does the “other important stuff.” I question, though:
    – whether the issue will “turn out minority and young voters” enough to matter (his words, not mine.)
    – whether if he wins the primary with it, it doesn’t hurt him in the general.

  15. George says:


    This is extremely important for jobs, education, reducing the vicious cycle of drug abuse and poverty and most importantly for helping sick children and patient who NEED THIS MEDICINE!!!!

  16. randyshannon says:

    The author of this article appears to have the “single issue” problem. Or maybe Ryan is too busy to do the work, and its not much, required to find out “the issues” motivating the several candidates. Apparently it hasn’t occurred to Ryan to investigate the money behind these candidates or their backgrounds…the two other important pieces of the puzzle of whom to vote for on May 20th.

    Hanger’s biggest issue is stopping privatization of public services. His second biggest issue is restoring funding to our schools and renewable energy infrastructure. His third biggest issue is taxing drillers and beefing up regulations and enforcement activity to stop polluters.

    His fourth biggest issue is legalization of marijuana. But the reason that Hanger’s position on this is so energizing is that he promises to expunge the records of those arrested for possession. Its not pot legalization…its justice for victims of unreasonable laws racially enforced by bigots.

    Yes, its Hanger’s stand for justice that has young people excited. Justice.

    • Ryan says:

      Before I posted this article, I wrote at the bottom (even in italics!) that John Hanger wasn’t a single-issue candidate. And if marijuana is his fourth biggest issue, he is certainly not acting like it. I’ll be on the lookout for his billboards about stopping privatization of public services.

  17. steventodd says:

    You and much of media choose to make the #1 issue who can garner more bribery…err, donations. Many, many of us find that reprehensible, or at very least don’t think it should be #1 qualification. We can’t write $10,000 checks, but we can talk to people and see what matters to them. Medical marijuana seems to. If some other issue does, let’s hear it. Until then: keep begging John to drop out, we will do what we can to keep him in. That’s how this works.

    We The People may not be able to change the rigged system, and few in media seem cover it. Fair enough, its your ballgame. But getting mad on the rare occasion one finds a way to end run around it isn’t going to stop us from trying.

    • Ryan says:

      This article praised the Hanger candidacy more than once — but I think he’s done his job by getting the other candidates to elucidate their positions on marijuana reform. Other than that, he doesn’t serve much of a purpose anymore consistently polling fifth or worse in primary polls, not raising much money, and occasionally being the only candidate who loses to Corbett in head-to-heads.

      My number one priority is making sure that Democrats have the most progressive candidate who can also win the general election. Not just the former. It does no good if we nominate the most progressive candidate to end up with four more years of Corbett.

  18. Pennsylvanians For John Hanger says:

    When John Hanger wins in May by numbers never seen before in Pa I expect an article worth reading from Ryan and Jon on how John Hanger not only shocked the elites but also shocked them as well . Your articles are amusing to say the least .

    • Jon Geeting says:

      And when he loses, I expect you to stop being a poll truther and vote intelligently in primary elections

      • Intelligent voting IS getting to know the candidates, looking at their experience, making an informed decision, and voting it (I’ll take nearly 3 decades of solid policy experience, energy expertise, and caring about the issues of all Pennsylvanians any day). Intelligent voting is not voting lock-step with party pundits.

  19. John Foote says:

    I believe that marijuana reform in Pa. is a very big issue. On December 24,2013 in The Williamsport Sun Gazette there was a front page article about Lycoming County needing to build a new prison at the cost of $40,000,000. On another page there was an article 16 people charged with drug offenses, 7 of them were for marijuana possession. This is another part of the monetary advantage to at least decriminalizing marijuana. Another aspect to look at is the amount of money that leaves Pa. on a daily basis that goes to other states and countries. 90% of the money spent for marijuana leaves our state, if that money were to remain in Pa. and get recirculated it would make a big impact on the economy. We are already set up with state run alcohol sales which would make it easy to set up state run dispensaries that would make it easy to control and tax.
    John also stands strong on education (which Corbett has all but destroyed), his job plan will create almost 400,000 jobs, and renewable energy. Another issue that has concerned me for years is the gas drilling problems in our state. This is a big concern of mine since I live in a rural area and have witnessed the “Wild West” mentality that Corbett has allowed from these out of state companies. I could go on about the gas industry but I think that everyone should be concerned about 632 chemicals being injected into the ground and only recovering at the most 70% of it and also the release of methane gas and radiation into the atmosphere.
    Last but not least is the issue of corporate power buying our politicians. John Hanger is accepting donations from people that he won’t owe favors to when he gets elected. We need campaign finance reform to get our country and state back in the hands of the people.

  20. Jason says:

    Legalizing marijuana is the single ticket platform that I have voted since high school. Your argument is invalid.

  21. Pennsylvanians For John Hanger says:

    The only reason Ryan wrote this was because he wasn’t getting any readers or comments on anything he wrote about . This article after less than a day is bringing in 80 percent higher numbers than any other thing he has written . I guess Jon Geeting gave him a tip on how to make poor articles relevant . Oh and Ryan did you get to vote in quinnipiac poll? Me either !

  22. Rebecca says:

    What John Hanger has is the support of the people hence “Peoples Campaign”. I don’t care how many polls there are online or offline. What matters is how many people will be at the polling booth hitting that John Hanger button. I have a feeling both you Ryan and your buddy Jon are in for a rude awakening in regards to what the people are capable of accomplishing when we work together as a whole. As far as marijuana is concerned what I see is finally a candidate with balls! 80% of Pennsylvanians are for marijuana, so this is not John’s issue this is our issue the peoples issue. As far as the other candidates jumping in and saying they are for it or want more research well IMO it’s not sincere. They see the insane response John is getting and want a piece of his pie. If they were truly sincere they would have used this issue way before they were forced to say so. However John Hanger has my vote and the vote of my entire family as well as my friends. I make it a point to talk about John with as many people as I can, at the grocery store at my kids school, the post office, the doctors office, and if just one person I talk to during a day tells one other person well I guess I am doing my job as a citizen. Not only will John Hanger win the election, the numbers will be outstanding!

    • Ryan says:

      Where is your 80% number coming from? If you’re talking about full legalization, Pennsylvanians (not myself) oppose fully legalizing marijuana 54-38.

      • Pennsylvanians For John Hanger says:

        Must be another quinnipiac poll , I have never ever seen a “public” poll in favor of keeping it illegal . EVER

      • Rebecca says:

        http://wnep.com/2014/01/24/poll-do-you-think-marijuana-should-be-legalized/……………….Nearly 15,000 votes were counted.

        79% think marijuana should be legalized for all adults.
        9% think marijuana should be decriminalized for medical use.
        12% think marijuana should remain illegal.

        • Pennsylvanians For John Hanger says:

          Good luck debating with Bec , she will chew you up and spit you out , just saying

        • Ryan says:

          Haha Of course it’s an online poll.

          • Rebecca says:

            haha we’re real people with real votes….in every corner of this state…The “People” know what they want. John Hanger will shock and awe you! Stick that in your Quinnipiac pipe and smoke it!

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Don’t be a poll truther. That’s for the tea people.

          • Ryan says:

            Online polls certainly capture younger enthusiasm — I don’t take that away from Hanger supporters at all. But it is in no way a scientific poll; it’s just whoever shows up to the site (and to vote multiple times all you have to do is clear your cookies/cache). Quinnipiac is a scientific poll. Saying that 80% of Pennsylvanians support marijuana legalization is just wrong. I wish it was at 80%, but it’s not, so you cannot say that it is.

      • Roger Cohen says:

        The more pertinent data may be in today’s WSJ/NBC poll results,http://tinyurl.com/lo6l5gf, which showed a 54-43 majority favoring legal marijuana sales through regulated outlets. Given the close mirroring of PA to the nation at-large (51.1% for Obama US in 2012; 51.9% PA), the huge difference now from the 10-month-old results you’re hanging your case on is best understood as a measure of how fast public opinion is moving in the direction of legalization. We’ve seen this tipping point effect before, most recently with marriage equality.

  23. David Diano says:

    Gee… for something that’s not supposed to be the #1 issue, it does seem to the topic with the most comments. :-)

    • Jon Geeting says:

      I have a theory that comments starting with “Gee” on the Internet have a 100% stupidity rate. So far it has been quite reliable…

      • That’s how you reply to someone who has made a pretty harmless comment on your article?

        DAVID: “Gee… for something that’s not supposed to be the #1 issue, it does seem to the topic with the most comments. :-)”

        GEETING: “I have a theory that comments starting with “Gee” on the Internet have a 100% stupidity rate. So far it has been quite reliable…”

        Like David said, this issue is a #1 issue for many people.

    • Ryan says:

      This comment is equivalent to saying that somebody who wins an online poll is the front-runner.

  24. just skillz says:

    Quit beginning sentences with the word And! It’s acceptable in certain situations but geez!

  25. Jerry says:

    I still haven’t heard a good argument against it? “There’s not enough information on the long term effect…” I’m pretty sure people have been smoking weed for centuries, but people haven’t been mixing chemicals in labs and testing them for not even a fraction of that time. The real issue is the pharmaceutical companies will lose money on it. They have much more money to lobby against it and find more doctors to testify against it.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      The best argument against it is that we don’t know whether legal weed will substitute alcohol consumption, or complement it. If it led to less drinking, it would be a public health miracle. If it led to more drinking, it would be a public health nightmare. It’s a really serious unknown. Saying that it’s no more dangerous than alcohol isn’t some knock-down argument, because our alcohol control policies are a horrible failure. Alcohol, not marijuana, is the number one drug that grows the prison population.

      • Carl Dash says:

        Geeting, are you of the opinion that if Hanger wins the May election most Dems who voted for other candidates in the primary wouldn’t then shift their support to him? If that is your view, which current Dem candidate would you think they would be willing to shift to? And also if Hanger can bring a distinct group of voters into the race – young people of all races and Af-Ams concerned/interested in marijuana reform – what other candidate would THESE populations gravitate to? After all, these populations tend to have lower participation in certain elections, and any Dem calculus to defeat Corbett would probably need them. So if you are truly interested in defeating Corbett you should be applauding Hanger’s presence in this race, and hope he engages this issue as long as possible. Your objection makes me wonder what your real motives are. Who/what are you fighting for/with? Please answer.

        • steventodd says:

          Carl’s larger point is crucial. I do not doubt Geeting’s integrity, and I do wonder how much of the Dem primary enthusiasm might falter. But isn’t that true no matter who wins? Which one of our primary candidates will coalesce us best to beat Corbett? I think it is John Hanger, because he is the most authoritative speaker on every issue. Sure, McGinty and McCord are both much more polished and charming. But I’m hoping (and trusting) that we Dems are looking for more.

          • Carl Dash says:

            You don’t have to doubt his integrity….but I’m having a hard time reconciling his inconsistency. In the Dem primary for governor he wants to measure the legitimacy of a candidate by how high the issues a candidate emphasizes ranks to the average PA voter. Meanwhile, his favorite candidate in the PA 13th (Daylin Leach) is focusing on right to same sex marriage, women’s reproductive rights, and – you guessed it – marijuana reform. Now I’m not dismissing the importance of either the rights of same sex couples to marry nor women to control their bodies. Those issues matter at least as much to folks affected by them as the racial disparity in drug arrest mean to me as a black person in Philadelphia. The point is, does Geeting feel Leach’s emphasis on the aforementioned issues is an accurate reflection of the most pressing concerns facing the voters of the 13th? I assume Geeting knows there are two “13ths” (a Philly 13th and a Montco 13th) with some overlapping but also some divergent concerns. I look forward to his article exploring THAT.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          My view of the race is that having an unelectable candidate sucking up all the lefty energy in the race is a distraction that’s preventing us from getting an electable progressive candidate. None of the leading candidates feel any *electoral* pressure to adopt Hanger’s positions, so they aren’t. If Hanger was out of the race, those voters would indeed have to go somewhere, and they’d probably end up backing McGinty or McCord. I laid out the political dynamic here and still think I’m right about this: http://www.keystonepolitics.com/2014/01/want-winnable-liberal-pagov-candidate-need-john-hanger-race/

        • Jon Geeting says:

          If Hanger were the nominee, registered Dems would back him, and some left-leaning indies, but he’d lose right-leaning independents who don’t like Corbett. Don’t take my word for it, the Quinnipiac poll shows he’s the only one who loses to Corbett. Not because he’s too left but because, to be perfectly honest, he doesn’t have the personal touch to grow much beyond committed liberal activists. I bet I’d love hanging out with John Hanger. He appeals to me personally, I like his blog and his positions, and I bet he’s a great guy. But as a white online progressive activist and high-information voter, I am not at all representative of the Democratic base. I think his message sounds a bit too strident for general consumption. He seems like an activist and people don’t like activists. Not me, I love activists, but most people don’t.

          • Carl Dash says:

            Geeting why do you think the people attracted to Hanger on his marijuana issue would come out for McCord or McGinty? You never answered my question about your support of Leach. Isn’t he a progressive whose main support among online progressives? How do you reconcile touting his candidacy despite his narrow appeal? I ask respectfully.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            He doesn’t have narrow appeal though. He’s an elected state senator with a strong base of support from real voters, after winning multiple elections. He’s a media favorite and a favorite of online progressives, but the key is that he’s not *only* popular with those constituencies. Those things are on top of a solid regular political foundation.

      • John Foote says:

        If it were legal it wouldn’t grow the prison population.

  26. David Diano says:

    …. until now.

    Actually, the “Gee… ” is generally use to preface a statement of irony on the topic at hand.

  27. PreBigBanger says:

    Thank you for writing about John Hanger. More people need to know about him.

    However, I wish you had done more research. There is still time: http://www.hangerforgovernor.com

    Regarding your final comment:

    “(Final note: For those of you who will say that John Hanger is not a single-issue candidate, I don’t disagree, as he’s outlined other topics — but this is clearly how he is trying to garner support in this race. And Pennsylvania Democrats should focus on more immediate and pressing issues when making their decision.)”

    Saying that Pennsylvanians should focus on more immediate and pressing issues shows me that you have not done adequate research on marijuana and it’s health benefits to people who are currently suffering from hundreds of life threatening seizures every day. How much more immediate and pressing cam and issue be?

    Furthermore, if I can find this information out as an average citizen, why haven’t you, The Corbett administration, and the other Democratic candidates?

    • Please excuse typos from my previous comment. Using voice to text feature…

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Nobody’s saying it’s not an important issue, we’re saying it’s not the main issue that voters care about. Read the polls. It’s not even in the top 10.

      • Marijuana Legalization’s popularity is growing in direct correlation to the breadth of education on this topic. Even though the polls aren’t showing it, the issue is extremely important to those who need medicine now and can’t get it.

        It’s so important that families are uprooting and relocating to Colorado to save their children’s lives.

        If you’re suggesting that John Hanger’s efforts to educate and reform are wasteful, then I suggest you go interview one or two of the parents of these children who suffer every day. Some of them are teenagers who have had so many seizures every day of their lives, that they haven’t had a chance to come up for air long enough to learn how to speak, brush their own teeth, or advance in any normally expected way.

        Gas drilling and toxic waste is also best left in Hanger’s hands. He’s the only one who really knows what he’s talking about on this issue, and he’s the only one who can protect us.

        Public Schools is another issue Hanger is determined to improve.

        Mental Health… Prison Overcrowding… The schools to jails pipeline…

        Freedom to marry whomever you choose, regardless of gender…

        Green Energy !!!

        Just because the Billboards are screaming MARIJUANA, doesn’t mean that’s Hanger’s only issue. The Billboards are supposed to help this grassroots candidate get noticed, and they are doing one heck of an amazing job, as is our People’s Campaign, run by citizens, not by drilling giants, pharmaceutical companies or other hidden investors who like to buy candidates.

        Hanger is the real deal, and it’s time we elect someone who is proactive and already making more positive changes to Pennsylvania than those currently in power, simply by putting pressure on Corbett and the other gubernatorial candidates to follow along like the politically-motivated ladder-climbers they are!

        I don’t want the followers, no matter how much MONEY they have to spend on their campaigns. I am a Pennsylvania Citizen! I want my personal freedoms! I want a Governor in our state who can and will protect our families, land, water, air, jobs and children’s education from corruption and restore our freedoms! This is about more than just Marijuana; it’s about not being stupid and holding onto archaic laws.

        We owe it to ourselves to go out of our way to understand the underdogs, or we will continue to be ruled by the richest candidates, who are most likely backed by those who are more concerned with padding their own pockets, and not so concerned with protecting Pennsylvanians.

        John Hanger is worth meeting and watching.


        • Ryan says:

          I’ll think about coming back and responding to more of your questions when you actually read the article I wrote. If you made it fully through the first paragraph — you’d learn that I am in 100% support of full marijuana legalization exactly because some of the things you list, so it’s strange to list some of the same things I did and then tell me I “didn’t do my research.”

          This wasn’t a post about why or why not marijuana should be legalized. I think it should. It won’t anytime soon — and it’s a joint post (get it?!) about how some Hanger supporters and some people in the media need to stop pretending like it’s a big issue for Pennsylvanians. It’s not. There is polling to prove that it’s not. Medical marijuana has pretty strong support here. Full legalization of marijuana doesn’t. I wish it did — but it doesn’t. Full legalization is not going to be something our next governor should waste political capital on, because it won’t go anywhere.

          • That last sentence is where we disagree.

            With more education and more exposure, people who are in the closet are coming out on this issue. The polls will change.

            Personal freedoms, compassion and sensible lawmaking are always worth the time, energy and effort.

          • As an aside, for nearly a century, Marijuana has been demonized.

            Today, people are socially accepting Medical Marijuana for specific ailments. It’s no longer taboo.

            However, now we are demonizing THC. What people will soon come to realize is that THC is a vital component to healing and prevention and should not be left out of politically approved concoctions.

            Only full legalization will allow people to grow the plant in their yards, juice the entire plant without getting high, and use it for home-made arthritis cremes, healthy foods, etc. This approval for Medical Marijuana will soon grow into approval for Full Legalization, because it will catch on just like Organic Foods did, with education.

            And we in Pennsylvania will have NORML-approved, proactive change-agent, John Hanger to thank for speaking out before the other passive, reactionary candidates even knew there was an issue.

            That’s the kind of governor I want.

          • Ryan says:

            Why not start with medical marijuana — because it actually has a possibility of passing — and move on to full legalization when people start realizing that nothing terrible happened and the polls change (which will in turn change some of the minds of the legislators)?

            In executive positions, you don’t have unlimited capital to spend on whatever you want at any time. It has to be carefully orchestrated to get done what really needs to get done. And, at least in 2015, I do not want my governor spending that political capital on full legalization of marijuana, because the public is not for it, the state legislature is not for it, and it would be a tremendous waste for not using it on something big that could have actually gotten accomplished.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Only problem with this: you know who spent the biggest to block full legalization in Washington and Colorado? The medical marijuana shadow industry. Medical marijuana creates an interim interest that makes it harder to go all the way later. Not a knock-down argument against med marijuana or anything, but another view of the politics is that we should first decriminalize, and then wait it out until full legalization polls better.

          • steventodd says:

            Jon Geeting’s position is exactly John Hanger’s position and proposed approach, as I understand it. Here is his detailed and specific position:


            Steve Todd
            Dauphin County Coordinator

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Agreed. And again, I don’t disagree with Hanger about policy on almost any issue. I think he’s a very smart guy and I love his blog. He’s just clearly not able to win the Governor’s race.

  28. randyshannon says:

    Jon, who is clearly able to win the Governor’s race? I want to review that candidate’s stand on the issues.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolf

      • Hanger CAN win this race.

        I guess we will just have to disagree. Those candidates are not the best candidates to lead our state, and our People’s Campaign is going to keep spreading the word about John Hanger until we win that primary in May and the general election in November.

        • And good luck reviewing the other candidates’ stance on the issues.

          They either don’t have clear plans on every issue or they continue to change their minds to keep up with John Hanger.

          Don’t be fooled by advertisements. Don’t rely on websites that were probably written by their campaign managers.
          Watch the debates. See John Hanger’s intensity, passion, deep understanding and real experience on major issues, and compare that to one-strength McCord who knows finance and only finance… and McGinty who doesn’t have half the knowledge about the DEP, and card-reading, conservative Schwartz and Wolf who are obviously doing this for reasons OTHER than to help Pennsylvanians.

          Hanger was the first candidate to clearly announce his stance and detailed plans to fix a myriad of PA’s issues. He is a leader. The others are puppets and political career ladder climbers.


      • John, who did you favor in the Super Bowl?

  29. Pingback: Will Marijuana Make John Hanger Governor of Pennsylvania? | Franklin PipesFranklin Pipes

  30. Pingback: #PAGov: Marijuana is Pennsylvania Voters' 15th Issue, Right Above "Other" - Keystone Politics