By Steve Elliott
An Iowa man who had faced 15 years as a habitual offender and a mandatory three-year prison term for treating his cancer with cannabis oil has been sentenced to probation, as a district judge used his sentencing discretion.
Benton Mackenzie, 48, was charged along with his wife, Loretta, and son, Cody, reports Brian Wellner at Quad-City Times.
A jury found the Long Grove couple guilty of manufacturing marijuana, a Class C felony, at their trial this summer. District Judge Henry Latham barred Mackenzie from mentioning to jurors that he grew the marijuana to treat his cancer, or anything about his medical condition.
Mackenzie suffers from late stage angiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels in which tumors appear as skin lesions. Several lesions have grown from the size a pea a year ago to larger than a grapefruit now.
His backside and right leg are covered in lesions, and Mackenzie has had severe swelling recently. He was in the hospital on Sunday and has trouble walking due to the swelling, according to his wife.
Mackenzie said he grew marijuana at home until his arrest a year ago, treating his cancer with oil derived from the plant. The treatment kept the lesions small and prevented the cancer from spreading for two years, he said.
By Steve Elliott
The unthinkable has happened in Iowa, where a dying cancer patient -- along with his wife and son -- has been convicted for growing marijuana.
Benton Mackenzie, 48, faces a probable prison sentence after his Wednesday conviction on drug charges, which he views as a "death sentence," reports Grant Rodgers at The Des Moines Register. "I knew that's what they were going to do," Mackenzie said as his wife pushed him in a wheelchair leaving the courthouse, reports Brian Wellner at the Quad-City Times.
The unbelievable guilty verdict on four felony drug charges was delivered by Scott County jurors; Mackenzie's wife and son were also convicted alongside him.
Mackenzie said he used the plants to extract cannabis oil to treat a painful tumor on his buttock caused by angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer. The tumor has grown to the size of a grapefruit.
The case has drawn national attention to the barbarity of arresting cancer patients for treating themselves with cannabis. This year, Iowa legislators passed one of those "CBD-only" bills, narrowly crafted to allow parents with epileptic children to use cannabis oil as treatment, but that won't help the Mackenzies.
By Steve Elliott
Sometimes, you just have to shake your head and ask, "What the hell is the matter with people?" A terminal cancer patient and his entire family was arrested in Iowa -- including his parents, in their 70s -- because he uses medical marijuana.
Benton Mackenzie, 47, is expected to die from the terminal angiosarcoma cancer which he's battling; he uses medical marijuana, including cannabis oil, to manage his pain. The oil has proven effective for his cancer-related skin lesions, an experience some doctors say make him worth studying, reports Ed Krayewski at Reason.com.
"Instead of putting this guy in jail, somebody should be studying him," said Dr. Charles Goldman, a cancer surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. "I think Iowa is going against the current of history."
Local sheriff's deputy Dan Furlong began investigating Mackenzie's "drug activity" in 2010, reports Brian Wellner at the Quad-City Times. Furlong claimed that Mackenzie recruited a high school friend, "convicted felon" Stephen Bloomer, to help him grow marijuana.
Deputies pulled Bloomer over in May; he was driving a car registered to Mackenzie, without a license. They also spotted Bloomer walking in the same neighborhood where Mackenzie's parents live.