Terminal Cancer Patient in Iowa, Entire Family, Face Drug Charges Over His Medical Marijuana Use
(REASON) Benton Mackenzie is 47 and set to die, suffering from terminal angiosarcoma cancer. Mackenzie uses medical marijuana to manage his pain, including a cannabis oil for his skin lesions some doctors say make his experience worth studying for other patients. Mackenzie’s effort to alleviate his pain and improve the quality of his life, however, has put him in the crosshairs of Iowa law enforcement. The Quad-City Times reports on how it started:
Search warrants filed in Scott County District Court describe how sheriff’s deputy Dan Furlong, who began investigating Mackenzie’s drug activity in 2010, was determined to bring down a local conspiracy.
Furlong wrote that Mackenzie solicited a high school friend and convicted felon, Stephen Bloomer, to help him grow marijuana.
Deputies pulled Bloomer over in May and cited him for driving while barred. He drove a car registered to Mackenzie, Furlong wrote. Deputies also spotted Bloomer walking in the neighborhood of Mackenzie’s parents’ home at 27120 183rd Ave.
That was enough for Furlong to search Mackenzie’s trash cans, where he found marijuana stalks Mackenzie had stripped clean to make his medicine. Furlong used that evidence to obtain a search warrant.
“I woke up to a bunch of people screaming ‘search warrant!’” Mackenzie said. “They had me on the ground. They had my wife on the ground. They were throwing stuff around in my son’s room. I heard them trashing the house.”
Prosecutors charged Mackenzie, his wife, his adult son, and his septuagenarian parents, with whom Mackenzie and his family live. He spent 42 days in jail until prison officials had him released amid worry about how much his medical treatment might cost them while he was in custody.
An Iowa lawmaker introduced a bill at the beginning of the year that would legalize some use of medical marijuana. It failed by March. Iowa’s senior senator, Chuck Grassely, meanwhile, says science backs marijuana prohibition. Obviously, he has no idea what he’s talking about.