Iowa - Judge To Sentence Cancer Patient In Marijuana Case

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A judge will consider Tuesday whether to send a dying Iowa man to prison for a drug conviction that he says stemmed from his use of marijuana to treat terminal cancer. Benton Mackenzie, 48, faces a minimum sentence of three years if he receives prison time. Mackenzie suffers from a rare cancer of the blood vessels, and he says any prison term would amount to a death sentence. Supporters of medical marijuana have called the prosecution a gross injustice, and some are expected to protest outside the courthouse Tuesday.

Judge Henry Latham has the authority to suspend any prison sentence and issue probation. If sentenced to prison, Mackenzie is expected to seek to remain free on bond while he appeals. Latham is also expected to sentence Mackenzie's wife, 43-year-old Loretta Mackenzie, and their 23-year-old son, Cody Mackenzie, on Tuesday afternoon at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport. All three were charged following a June 2013 raid at the Long Grove, Iowa, home where they live with Mackenzie's parents, Dorothy and Charles Mackenzie. Sheriff's deputies found 71 marijuana plants, growing equipment, drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana in Cody's room.

Mackenzie said he grew the plants to obtain cannabis oil that he used to treat his angiosarcoma, which causes skin lesions. He said the oil relieved his pain and helped to reduce the size of lesions. At trial, Latham repeatedly barred Mackenzie from testifying about his cancer, noting that a medical necessity defense is not allowed in Iowa.

Jurors in July found Mackenzie and his wife guilty of manufacturing marijuana and related charges. Their son was found guilty of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Medical marijuana is not legal in Iowa, although a new state law allows the most severe epilepsy patients to use cannabis oil for treatment. The law doesn't apply to cancer patients and didn't help Mackenzie. After the trial he traveled to get treatment in Oregon, one of 23 states that permits medical marijuana.

More than 16,600 people signed a petition urging the Scott County Attorney's Office to drop the charges. Others have contacted Gov. Terry Branstad to urge a pardon. A Branstad spokesman said it would be premature to comment since the case is still pending. Scott County Attorney Mike Walton has defended the prosecution, saying he is enforcing the state's marijuana laws as written. He has noted that Benton Mackenzie has two prior felony drug convictions from 2000 and 2011, which makes him a "habitual offender." Walton's office recently dropped charges of hosting a drug house against Dorothy and Charles Mackenzie, who are in their 70s, stemming from the raid.



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Source: Sacbee.com
Author: Associated Press
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Judge to sentence cancer patient in marijuana case - Wire Health & Science - The Sacramento Bee
 
As a native Iowan, this truly sucks. If they would legalize real medical, and preferably recreational use, I'd look at moving back. Winters still suck in Iowa though, so you really need cannabis to make it tolerable!