Terminal Cancer Patient Faces Three Years For Growing Medical Marijuana

If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are people sent off to serve long jail sentences in states where legality is but a dream. Though 81% of Iowa voters support legalizing medical marijuana, it remains illegal. Yet, just this month Iowa legalized oil concentrated with cannabidiol for only those suffering from severe epileptic seizures.

The absurdity and sheer unfairness of Iowa’s marijuana laws were made stark this week.

Benton Mackenzie, 43, from Long Grove, Iowa has angiosarcoma, a terminal cancer of the blood vessels. In his back yard, he grew marijuana to ease his pain and reduce the size of his skin lesions. After smelling marijuana on his property, the police seized 71 plants from his home last summer and charged him criminally. The jury at his trial was not allowed to hear any evidence regarding Mackenzie’s cancer nor that being the reason for growing his marijuana plants. When Mackenzie suffered an episode of extreme pain and hallucinations on July 7th in the courtroom, the jury was escorted out of court and unable to see the effects of his cancer.

Before his trial, Mackenzie was quoted as saying, “I’m not allowed to mention anything. I’m not allowed to give proof why I was using. No matter what, if I’m found guilty, I’ll do at least three years in prison, which is a death sentence for me. If I’m found guilty at all, I’m a dead man. I’m lucky I’m not dead already.”

This past Wednesday, Mackenzie was convicted in an Iowa district court of marijuana manufacturing and conspiracy, along with his wife, Loretta though neither have yet been sentenced. Their son, Cody, was also found guilty of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. In addition, Mackenzie’s parents are charged with hosting a drug house.

Mackenzie is very likely going to be sentenced to three years in state prison for having grown marijuana to ameliorate his terminal cancer. Think about that. Three years in prison for a terminal cancer patient who committed no violent act nor stole anything from anyone. The sad thing is that cases like this do not advance the rule of law, they help destroy it. If you were to ask 100 people if they think Mackenzie deserves three years for his “crime,” at least 99 of them would say “no.” Bad laws weaken the law. Sending people to prison because of a bad law is corrosive to our legal system.

Marijuana use should be legalized. Justice should matter. Free Benton Mackenzie.