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Man dying of cancer takes stand in pot trial

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A jury in Scott County will soon decide the guilt or innocence of a cancer patient and his family prosecuted for growing pot.

Benton and Loretta Mackenzie are charged with felonies, and their son is charged with a misdemeanor, in a controversial case getting lots of attention in the wake of changing medical marijuana laws.

On Tuesday, July 8, 2014, Benton Mackenzie took the witness stand, telling the jury the 71 marijuana plants - seized by deputies in May 2013 - were his.

But it's what Mackenzie was not allowed to tell the jury that, he says, is unfair.

Mackenzie says he grew pot to harvest cannabis oil to treat his terminal cancer and the pain that comes with it.

Judge Henry Latham ruled earlier that Mackenzie could not use that as a defense at trial, and was not to mention his condition on the witness stand.  Latham re-stated the position Tuesday, July 8.

"He may testify to anything he desires to, but he may not comment on his condition. It is not relevant to the facts of this case, and he may not testify to the medical use of marijuana," Judge Latham said.

Mackenzie's father said his son is no drug dealer, but a man who sought relief after being treated with cannabis oil in Oregon.

"He's in Stage 4 cancer, he's terminal, he's on hospice. You want to make yourself miserable and vomit all the time for six months of life, or try to supress this and so far, he's done a pretty good job with what he's using," Charles Mackenzie said during a break in court.

"He believes if what he is doing can help someone else, he's won," he said.

Mackenzie's son and wife were also charged after last year's raid.

Ironically, a new Iowa law took effect July 1, 2014, which allows cannabis oil for treatment of epileptic seizures only.


  • karen weaver

    what an outrage -the man has terminal cancer – however the judge said that he could not mention the cancer and that it was irrelevant to the case – BULL SH—T – it has everything to do with the case – I am appalled at the judges ruling – all studies indicate that the pot oil helps with cancer patients – when does the compassion come in??????????

  • Vaughn Foster

    This is embarrassing to iowa, and to America. The man is not allowed to defend himself in court, because the judge doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth. This is a man fighting to survive and cannot continue the travel back and forth to a civilized state with modern laws! The large drug companies bleeding America dry for cancer treatment are trying to keep the fact quiet that pot CURES many forms of cancer! America is not only enabling the big drug companies to continue to bilk the public….they continue to keep the real fix illegal!

  • Gail Storm

    The plants were reportedly high in CBDs which can increase the pain killing benefits. The fact is, that high CBDs = low in THC which gets you high. In marijuana plants, the higher the level of one of those, the lower the other. You can’t have high levels of both. The judge is just ignorant on so many levels.

  • Jim Heffner

    This is all very sad. The one thing that stands out to me is that the mainstream media is not covering this high interest situation. The only good side to this is that the more outrageous the prohibitionists act the more activists we have demanding repeal of prohibition.

  • jrandl

    The judge should be fired for not allowing the guys best defense to be heard in court. No common sense what so ever.I hope the guy sues that judge for over reach of his authority.

  • Tina James

    This is horrible,,,,THIS IS HORRIBLE,,,this judge has taken the law into his own hands and not allowed this man his proper day in court. By not allowing this sick man to speak his truth and state why he is growing and using this MEDICINE this judge has taken away this mans constitutional rights!!!! This judge needs to be removed from this bench. He has overstepped his powers!!! I just pray to God that the jury see’s through all of this and does not convict this poor man… If they convict this man God and all his Angels will be on you Iowa… Shame on this judge,,,SHAME ON THIS JUDGE!!!!!

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