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Democratic candidate for governor pushes to legalize marijuana, says he never inhaled

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Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 5:57 p.m.

HERSHEY — John Hanger, the only candidate for governor pushing legalization of marijuana, says he never inhaled and, in fact, never put a joint near his mouth.

Hanger, a former Cabinet secretary of ex-Gov. Ed Rendell, has been pounding the pot issue at every opportunity, so the Tribune-Review posed the question to him in a hallway outside where the Democratic Party met Saturday to consider endorsements for governor.

“Never have. ... Completely sober,” Hanger said.

Other Democratic candidates say they support “decriminalization” in which there would be fines but no jail term for personal use.

The Democrats did not endorse a gubernatorial candidate.

Hanger, a former state environmental regulator and one-time member of the Public Utility Commission, said he enjoys “a little whiskey, a little wine.”

“It's an economic issue and a justice issue,” Hanger said of marijuana. Because he says he never used, he is “a good messenger.”

He would advise people not to smoke, but “I live in the real world.”

He would use marijuana, he said, if he were sick from cancer and the drug were legalized for medical use.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or

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