One day after being convicted on felony pot charges, Ben Mackenzie of Eldridge, Iowa likens it to "a death sentence."
"They've sentenced me to death. Might as well have hung me. It would be quicker, less painful," Mackenzie said in an interview at his parent's home.
Mackenzie suffers from angiosarcoma, an aggressive and rare form of cancer. He says without the cannabis oil, harvested from pot plants he grew, the painful tumors growing on his body will take over.
"It's not about relief or symptoms, it's about saving my life. It stops the cancer form growing. It stops it from spreading. In a lot of cases, with the right ratio of cannabinoids, with the right dose, it actually consumes the cancer. It causes the cells to commit suicide and die, and the tumors die and disappear," Mackenzie said.
During a week-long trial in Scott County, Mackenzie was barred from using his cancer and medical marijuana as a defense, because pot is not recognized under Iowa law as a legal treatment for the disease.
"I wasn't even allowed to say that I'm sick. I wanted to tell them the whole truth. They took away my fair fight. They tied my hands, by tying my mouth," he said.
Mackenzie, his wife Loretta and their son were all arrested after a raid at the house.
The couple now faces prison time, and will learn their fate at an August 28th hearing.
Mackenzie was convicted in 2000, and 2011 on pot charges. He says he smoked pot prior to the cancer diagnosis.
"It was more for comfort. Now, its not. It's a matter of life or death now. The Sheriff's Department, the prosecutor, the judge, they all act like I'm malingering, like I'm faking. I'm dying. I should have been dead years ago," he said.
Loretta Mackenzie says she's hoping the two receive probation, and believes laws on medical marijuana need to change.
"We've been married 22 years. To think about both of us going to prison and not seeing each other again until we're in heaven, that tears me apart," she said.
She spent 60 days in the county jail after the arrest, he spent 40.
"If I'm in prison and away from any treatment, I won't last two months. I'm a dead man," Benton said.