Man with cancer gets probation for growing 71 marijuana plants
A dying Iowa man who grew marijuana to treat terminal cancer was sentenced to probation Tuesday, avoiding prison even as he defended his decision to violate the law.
Judge Henry Latham chastised 48-year-old Benton Mackenzie for ignoring the law by growing 71 marijuana plants in a trailer outside his parents’ eastern Iowa home. He said growing so many plants would not be legal even in the 23 states that allow medical marijuana, which Iowa does not, and noted Mackenzie had two prior drug convictions.
But Latham said he was using his discretion to grant probation so Mackenzie could receive medical treatment for angiosarcoma, a rare cancer of the blood vessels that has caused large skin lesions on his buttocks. Latham suspended a potential 15-year prison sentence and issued a three-year term of probation instead, a relief to supporters and medical marijuana advocates who packed the Davenport courtroom.
Mackenzie, sitting in a wheelchair, told the judge he felt he didn’t have any choice but to break the law. He said the treatment from cannabis oil had made some of his tumors disappear since he was first diagnosed seven years ago. Wearing loose-fitting sweatpants that covered large skin lesions and appearing to grimace at times, he said he was justified ignoring laws that “take away my right guaranteed by the constitution to my life.”
“I have lasted seven years on a disease that takes people who don’t get treated in two years. And people who go through the traditional methods, they last three years. So basically I have proven the decision I made was the right one, to save my life,” he said.
Read more: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/09/09/cancer-patient-avoids-prison-for-growing-marijuana/