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FORUM: Democratic state rep. candidates talk medical marijuana, school safety

Democratic candidates for the 73rd district state representative seat discussed medical marijuana and school safety at Wednesday’s forum.

Pat Banks and Rory Houlihan are on the Democratic primary ballot.

Banks said she thinks it is worth opening up a conversation about legalizing medical marijuana. She said farmers are looking for a cash crop since tobacco has fizzled out. Banks said her great-grandfather was a hemp farmer.

Banks said she didn’t know what the first step was, but there are choices to be made.

“I know farmers would like to have that conversation,” she said.

Houlihan said research already exists concerning benefits of medical marijuana and he believes medical marijuana could help solve the opioid crisis.

“(It is) a less addictive, less deadly alternative,” he said.

In regards to school safety, Banks said she has a grandchild in school, and 8-year-olds are dying in schools. She said she talked with law enforcement officers who think it’s a local issue that school districts need to decide.

“I don’t think students should go to school and be afraid,” she said.

She said she doesn’t think it’s the teacher’s job to police, and many teachers say they don’t want guns.

Houlihan said he doesn’t want to put guns in schools; however, he mentioned having people armed with weapons guarding the school.

“If you arm them on the outside, everyone who comes near knows you mean business,” he said.

As far as what motivates her, Banks mentioned her passion for school and the environment. She said we need to invest in infrastructure, education and children.

“These things matter,” she said.

For Houlihan, it’s his granddaughter.

“I want her to have a better world,” he said. “And I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen you work hard and not get ahead. You are my job sustainer. You sustain my job. We are in it together. Symbiotic relationships require working together, and I’m not seeing it.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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