Benton Mackenzie is dying of cancer. And that’s pretty much how he successfully wriggled off the hook for 15 years of prison time after law enforcement found 71 marijuana plants in a trailer in his parents’ back yard. But before readers run to their medical marijuana lawyers in Nevada with a plan to bring out their medical records or decide that this piece is entirely disrespectful toward individuals’ medical problems and irreverently disregarding of the values of medical marijuana, let’s hear the facts, just as Mackenzie’s jury did, as the Las Vegas Sun reports on the story.
First of all, Mackenzie’s cancer was terminal. Not that cancer isn’t cancer, because it’s all pretty terrible, as anyone who has gone through the ordeal or had a relative or close friend who has knows. But Mackenzie’s angiosarcoma, a rare cancer of the blood vessels apparently has a two year survival rate left to itself, and only three with traditional and aggressive methods of treatment. Mackenzie has survived for seven, and cites the cannabis oil he derives from his marijuana plant mini farm as the reason he’s made it thus far. Like Robert Ryan, most medical marijuana lawyers in Nevada, at this point albeit doing more representation for store owners or entrepreneurs who want to get in on the burgeoning but still legally complicated scene, would probably want to remind readers at this point that anecdotal stories about how “weed saved my life” don’t constitute hard research into pot’s benefits.
Still, both Mackenzie’s illness and his survival thus far factored into the case against him, despite Iowa’s stipulation that medical necessity is not allowed as a defense in the state. Honestly, it probably helped his case that Mackenzie was “sitting in a wheelchair” and “wearing loose-fitting sweat pants that covered large skin lesions,” he apparently seemed “to grimace in pain at times” throughout the trial, arguing that he was justified in ignoring Iowa’s drug laws “that take away my right guaranteed by the constitution to my life.”
But 71 plants would have been illegal in any of the 23 states in which marijuana is allowed to varying extents, medical marijuana lawyers in Nevada might gently point out. The fact that Mackenzie ended up on probation-only is a pretty generous sentence by the County Judge, especially given his two prior felony drug convictions. Mackenzie’s hopeful that “his case will lead to a more robust medical marijuana law in Iowa,” where, similarly to Utah, the legislature recently approved for patients to utilize cannabis oil to treat severe seizure disorders.
But even while patients assume that legalized medical marijuana allows them to get off scott-free, medical marijuana lawyers in Nevada know better. Workers can still get fired for using the stuff, parents can still face children’s protective services cases, and as Mackenzie found out—even when it’s used for a legitimate purpose, prior drug convictions don’t look good any time an individual encounters the law. It’s still a complex business, but attorneys and citizens alike are looking forward to the day when more guidelines are clearly established nationwide, likely through court cases very much like this one.