Convicted Iowa pot growers travel to Oregon for medical marijuana purchase


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DAVENPORT, Iowa — A terminal cancer patient convicted earlier this month of growing marijuana plants in Iowa is planning to travel to Oregon with his wife to buy the drug legally.

"I have word there will be fresh juice for me right when I get off the plane," 48-year-old Benton Mackenzie told the Quad-City Times earlier this week (http://bit.ly/1k9ZPzv ). "I'm going to hit that like it's going out of style."

Mackenzie was convicted along with his wife Loretta earlier this month of growing 71 marijuana plants in their rural Scott County home.

He met with an Oregon doctor during a previous trip to apply for and receive a medical cannabis card. He will be able to buy and consume marijuana while in Oregon, which passed a medical marijuana law in 1998, but he cannot bring the drug back to Iowa with him.

One of the biggest challenges Mackenzie said he'll face during the Oregon trip will be affording the drug, which costs about $380 an ounce. His health insurance won't foot the bill, so he said he's relying on donations from family and friends around the country.

Mackenzie is in the last stages of angiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels in which tumors appear as skin lesions. He said one tumor on his body has grown larger than his fist.

Until his arrest last year, Mackenzie said he grew marijuana to treat his cancer with oil from the plant. A judge barred him from raising that defense at trial earlier this month.

He and his wife are awaiting sentencing in Scott County District Court. Mackenzie said he faces at least three years in prison, which he considers a "death sentence."

"I've got one foot in the grave, I guess," he said.


Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

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