Candidate has two kinds of aspirations


        Mark Kennis is vying for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States, and unlike the man he hopes to replace, he admits to inhaling.
        The 51-year-old Grimes man was charged last week with manufacturing marijuana and conspiring to distribute it to a minor.  He wouldn't comment on the charges against him, but he said that he started smoking marijuana at age 19, and that he has used the drug to relieve pain suffered from diabetes and heart problems.
        The former independent candidate for governor said Monday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president, and that during the campaign he will advocate legalization of marijuana.
        "It would give Iowa farmers something to grow and it would be a benefit to people," Kennis said.
        Kennis is also known as host of "Big People News," a public-access television show that focuses on discrimination against large people.  Monday night, he said marijuana use has helped him control his weight.
        He and four other people, including his son David Kennis, 24, of Grimes, were arrested on drug charges Friday.  Police said officers, acting on a tip, went to the family's home and found the five in the living room, smoking marijuana in the presence of a 15-year-old, who Kennis said Monday was his son Matthew.  They also said they found evidence that marijuana had been grown in the home.  Kennis and most of the others have been released from jail after posting bond.
        When Kennis ran for governor last year, he came in fifth place with 1,760 votes, far behind the nearly, 500,000 garnered by Democrat Tom Vilsack.  But he predicted he would win the Iowa presidential caucuses next February.
        "If I win in Iowa, I think it will bring attention nationwide on marijuana use."

The Des Moines Register
Tuesday, 23 March 1999, Page 6M
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