Earlier this month, Benton MacKenzie was convicted in Iowa for growing medical weed, but he plans to keep on using until they lock him up.
MacKenzie flew into Portland, Ore., July 22, bringing his wife and son – both of who were convicted with him – on a search for medical marijuana. A longtime patient, MacKenzie suffers from stage-four angiosarcoma, an especially aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the blood vessels.
Benton MacKenzie was convicted earlier in the month of felony marijuana manufacture, conspiracy, violating Iowa’s drug tax stamp act, and paraphernalia possession. His wife, Loretta, was convicted of similar charges while their son, Cody, was convicted of misdemeanor marijuana and paraphernalia possession.
Benton MacKenzie’s parents were also charged because he grew medical pot at their house. But prosecutors dropped the charges in July after admitting they had little evidence the elderly couple broke the law.
The family has received an outpouring of support from cannabis advocates and civil liberties watchdogs. Medical marijuana is now commonplace in America, and the sight of an innocent family locked up for growing medicine is abhorrent even to many Iowans.
Benton, Loretta, and Cody MacKenzie will be sentenced in August. Benton MacKenzie faces up to five years in prison, in part because he has prior drug-related convictions.
All those problems seemed to ease when the family landed in Portland. Benton MacKenzie was in need of weed to treat his severe chronic pain. He said he wanted something high in both CBD and THC.
“The more I take, the slower [the cancer] grows,” he said.
CBD is a so-called cannabinoid, one of many chemicals contained in marijuana. THC is also a cannabinoid. Each of the substances affects disease in different ways. THC is useful for many conditions, including PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease, while CBD helps with seizures and some other illnesses.
Oregon is the only state with medical marijuana that allows non-residents to enroll, so Benton MacKenzie was able to get the medicine denied to him in his home state. At the hotel, he met with a local cannabis advocate who brought him his latest tools in the fight against cancer: hash oil and a juice made from weed.
If he’s incarcerated, Benton MacKenzie would likely die in prison, making this possibly the last trip the family will take together – all because cops and prosecutors can’t give up the outdated notion that weed is a baby-killing monster driving society toward ruin.
For a short time, though, the family was able to forget about what awaits them on their return to Iowa.
“It feels great,” Loretta MacKenzie said at the airport. “It always does.”