Cancer Patient Grows Marijuana and Avoids Prison

In a state where not even medical marijuana is legal, a terminally sickened man was able to avoid prison and receive only probation.

The 48-year old Iowan man, Benton Mackenzie, who grew marijuana to treat his terminal cancer, was sentenced to probation on Tuesday, September 9th, 2014. Having been convicted of two prior drug accounts, he was still able to avoid prison all while defending his decision to violate the law. And what’s even more surprising is that the judge, Henry Latham, chastised Mackenzie by pointing out the fact that not even one of the 23 states that do allow medical marijuana would allow him to grow the amount of plants that he grew—71marijuana plants!

To the relief of many medical marijuana supporters and advocates, Judge Latham did not sentence Mackenzie to prison and stated he was using his discretion to grant Mackenzie probation in order for him to be able to receive medical treatment for angiosarcoma, a rare and malignant cancer that affects the epithelial cells that line the walls of vessels.

Mackenzie stated during his hearing that “[he has] lasted seven years on a disease that takes people who don’t get treated in two years. And people who go through the traditional methods, they last three years.” He went on to say that basically the decision he made, which ultimately led him to violate the law, was the correct one, which was to save his life.

1404932002000-photoAlthough Judge Latham did warn Mackenzie that he was to remain substance-abuse free during his probation, Mackenzie stated that he would ask his probation officer for permission to travel to Oregon to continue receiving treatment under the state’s medical marijuana laws. 

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

And honestly, this is what we (medical marijuana advocates and supporter) wish for. Currently in the state of Iowa, cannabis oil has been recently allowed by lawmakers to be used by only the most severe epilepsy patients as treatment, but it is obvious that it is not enough for only 23 states to have in place medical marijuana laws.


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