WICHITA, Kan. -- A Wichita woman entering the race for Kansas Governor said Saturday she will push for reform of the state's marijuana laws.
Jennifer Winn said she was just a business woman who was too busy to pay much attention to politics until her son was charged with murder. Her frustration with what she believes is the court's unfair treatment of her son inspired her to enter politics.
"Now's the time," Winn said. "We've waited long enough. The suppression, the prohibition has gone on long enough. People are losing their lives and there's no need for that."
Winn, who will run against Gov. Sam Brownback as a Republican, said when announcing her candidacy Saturday that the criminalization of marijuana is what leads to the violence that sometimes accompanies its trade.
Her son, Kyler Carriker, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with an April drug deal that led to the death of 33-year-old Ronald Betts. Winn said her son did not kill anyone and only told a friend where he could buy some marijuana.
Sending non-violent drug offenders to prison, Winn said, is costing Kansas taxpayers too much money.
"We still are cutting education and there's no need for that," Winn said. "If we tap into the sources just like Colorado, there's no need for that. Our kids can have their art class back. Our kids can have their sports team back."
The co-owner of a family landscape company, Winn said her move into politics is also aimed at helping Kansans who want to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"I have talked to so many people that need help and they're leaving," she said. "They're just leaving. They're moving to Colorado, where they can get the medicinal value from the marijuana plant that they need."
Winn knows she faces a tough battle in running against Brownback. However, she said, at the very least, Kansans will hear her message.
"I'm going to educate folks," she said. "Even if I lose, they've gained the education that I'm going to bring them. And with that, that's power. Education is truly power."