An eastern Iowa man who was convicted late last year of growing marijuana that he used to treat his rare form of cancer has died.
Benton Mackenzie, 49, died Monday at his home in Long Grove, near Davenport, his mother Dottie Mackenzie confirmed Tuesday.
He had been growing marijuana to create cannabis oil that he consumed and applied to tumors caused by his angiosarcoma, a rare cancer of the blood vessels that he was diagnosed with seven years ago.
Mackenzie said his self-treatment from the oil had prolonged his life and made some of the skin lesions disappear. Little research has been conducted on the effect of cannabis oil on this form of cancer, though doctors don't discredit Mackenzie's claims. But Iowa only allows medical marijuana to be used to treat intractable epilepsy, meaning further research of the drug's benefits is obstructed in the state.
"He didn't ask for this fight," Dottie Mackenzie said. "It came to him."
Benton Mackenzie and his wife, Loretta Mackenzie, were charged with conspiring to grow marijuana after a June 2013 raid of their home in which authorities found 71 marijuana plants, growing equipment and drug paraphernalia. Their son, Cody Mackenzie, was charged and convicted of drug possession when police found a small amount of marijuana in his room.
Benton Mackenzie was sentenced last September to three years of probation, and his wife and son also received probation.
Following his sentence, Benton Mackenzie was warned to spend the remainder of his life marijuana-free, to meet the terms of his probation and avoid being sent to prison.
The Quad-City Times reported that Mackenzie's parents faced misdemeanor charges in the case of hosting a drug house, but the charges were eventually dropped. Dottie Mackenzie told the paper that she's hoping her daughter-in-law and grandson will also be shown leniency as they move forward with appeals.
Dottie MacKenzie said she's found peace with the situation and her son's death. She said she won't actively advocate for looser medical marijuana laws in Iowa moving forward, but she hopes his case will serve as an example.
"He's proof that it works," she said.