A terminally ill man and his family in Iowa are facing jail time for medical marijuana use and growth at their home.
Benton Mackenzie, 47, along with his wife, his adult son, and his parents, with whom they are living, are all being charged with growing marijuana for personal use. Mackenzie and his family claim, however, that the marijuana is grown only because it is the only thing that helps his pain.
Mackenzie’s doctors say that he will eventually die from angiosarcoma, as new tumors are continuing to grow. The man was held in jail for 42 days, but was eventually released because, according to Mackenzie’s public Facebook profile, the county didn’t want to pay for his medical expenses.
“Wow, long couple of days! I am out on pretrial release, because they (Scott County) doesn't want to spend the money for my medical expenses. Loretta L Mackenzie [wife] is still in jail on $5000 cash only bond, but we are fighting to get it reduced and or released like me. Will put more details tomorrow. Mentally and physically exhausted,” writes Mackenzie in the August 21st post.
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According to reports, 30 new lesions appeared on Mackenzie during his jail stay, all extremely painful. When at home, he would use hemp oil, made from cannabis, to alleviate the pain, as he claims was the only thing that worked.
Medical marijuana use has long been debated, with many researchers saying that for cancer patients and others with chronic or terminal illnesses, it drastically improves their quality of life. It has also been shown to have healing effects for certain diseases, and while it is legal in some states, it is not in most. Growing marijuana is illegal in most states, including Iowa, where Mackenzie and his family are now facing criminal charges.
Prosecutors say that Mackenzie’s marijuana use is not just due to his terminal cancer, but claim that he has been using and growing pot for years. They say that he has a criminal record with a history of prove prior arrests for growing marijuana.
Still, Mackenzie and his family maintain that the marijuana was helping him live with his terminal illness. They now have to prove that to a judge.