Terminal Cancer Patient Found Guilty for Growing Marijuana

By Brent McCluskey 09/10/14

Benton Mackenzie is the latest victim of an absurd drug war.

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A terminally ill cancer patient who was caught growing marijuana narrowly avoided prison time after an Iowa judge sentenced him to probation Tuesday.

Benton Mackenzie, 48, adamantly defended his decision to break the law, telling Judge Henry Latham he didn’t have any other viable way to treat his advanced cancer. Mackenzie faced up to 15 years behind bars for his crime, but Judge Latham sentenced him to a three-year probation period based on the defendant’s poor health.

Mackenzie said he was using the plants to create cannabis oil to treat the tumors on his body, a result from a rare form of cancer known as angiosarcoma. Mackenzie’s tumors are so severe he is confined to a wheelchair, and claimed the cannabis oil was the only treatment that worked.

“I have lasted seven years on a disease that takes people who don’t get treated in two years,” Mackenzie told the judge. “And people who go through traditional methods, they last three years. So basically I have proven the decision I made was the right one, to save my life.”

Mackenzie was charged following a June 2013 raid, where deputies seized 71 marijuana plants and other various drug paraphernalia from a trailer outside his parents’ home. Mackenzie’s wife, Loretta Mackenzie, 43, and his son, Cody Mackenzie, 23, were also charged and found guilty.

The case has been a cause of public outcry among medical marijuana advocates, but many, including Mackenzie, hope it will serve to bring about change.

“I hope this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and brings some sanity to lawmakers’ decision-making process,” Mackenzie said. “I hope I am the last person who has to go through this.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.