Dying Iowa man found guilty of growing pot after judge bars testimony about his terminal cancer

By Scott Kaufman
Thursday, July 10, 2014 9:03 EDT
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On Wednesday, a jury found Benton Mackenzie of Iowa guilty of felony marijuana manufacturing after the judge in the case barred him from testifying about the reason he grew the plants — to treat his terminal cancer.

“He may testify to anything he desires to, but he may not comment on his condition,” the Judge Henry Latham told Mackenzie and his attorneys. “It is not relevant to the facts of this case, and he may not testify as to the medical use of marijuana.”

Mackenzie was diagnosed with angiosarcoma — a cancer of the inner linings of the blood vessels that, in Mackenzie’s case, manifests as painful lesions on the skin — in 2011. He claimed that he grew strains of marijuana rich in cannabidiol (CBD) because the oil helped heal his lesions, if only temporarily.

His wife, Loretta, has posted graphic photographs of her husband’s lesions on the “Free Benton Mackenzie” Facebook page.

His father, Charles Mackenzie, told WQAD that his son is “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 suppress this and so far, he’s done a pretty good job with what he’s using.”

The elder Mackenzie then added that his son “believes if what he is doing can help someone else, he’s won.”

After the verdict was read, Mackenzie told the Quad-City Times that he was “flabbergasted the court ordered me to not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

“It’s an abomination of justice.”

His wife Loretta and son Cody were also convicted of drug-related charges. She faces at least three years in jail for felony marijuana manufacturing, conspiracy, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Twenty-two year old Cody faces a year in prison for misdemeanor possession.

Watch a report on the Mackenzie trial from WQAD below.

Scott Kaufman
Scott Kaufman
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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