Pubdate: 23 Mar 1999
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 1999, The Des Moines Register.
Author: Jason Clayworth


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
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MAP posted-by: Mike Gogulski