Cancer patient likens pot conviction to a ‘death sentence’

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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.

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  • Another Guy

    So sorry! It is tyrannical and horrifying that Americans are not allowed to choose what they put in their own bodies. We should not tolerate this abuse from those that call themselves leaders, but are really an oligarchy.

  • Heartland Hannah

    We just need to get with the program and legalize pot. It’s not going to go away so better to tax and regulate it better. That being said, I believe there is more to this particular story than medicinal use only and it frustrates me that media are editorializing it rather than reporting the full story. After all if you truly need it for medicinal purposes why not just go to a state that already allows that? It would have been a pretty simple solution to avoid all these problems. Assuming of course that’s the only use made of the pot farm.

    • A.

      You are sooo right, Heartland Hannah. This man, with terminal cancer, should have packed up his whole life and family and just simply moved to another state!

  • Right like usual

    If he hadn’t had previous arrests and convictions for the drug possession, there might have been some sympathy. Mckenzie attempted to use the “poor me” defense and it appears he’s convinced some low information-type peoples.

    • dmh

      That may be the law but, obviously the science differs as limited as it is. If there are any “low information-type peoples” it lies with our politicians for not allowing the science to move forward. The only reason that the previous arrests are even relevant is because it created judicial bias for this judge to be a jerk about what reality was. When the science does not move forward, it creates low information voters as well on the subject as the lost war on drugs carries on and tax dollars are wasted on senseless incarceration.

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