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Benton Mackenzie, an Iowa man facing a prison sentence for treating his terminal condition with cannabis has been sentenced to probation instead of the minimum mandatory prison sentence of three years he was facing following his conviction this summer. His wife, Loretta, was also sentenced to probation, while their son had a prison sentence for a possession conviction suspended, meaning he won’t have to serve it.
Many are calling this a victory, and in many ways it is. Benton Mackenzie has been spared what would have in reality been a death sentence. Now, he may have a chance at once again shrinking the tumors caused by his angiosarcoma, but only if his probation officer agrees to allow the family to move to Oregon and participate in a probation program there.
Still, the fact remains that neither Benton nor his family members were even allowed to speak about his medical condition at his trial. While his sentence sets positive precedent for others in similar positions, they will still be facing a trial and possibly a conviction.
Benton Mackenzie is not and was not a criminal for seeking out the only medicine that presented him with a chance. He should not have to live the rest of his life branded a criminal, facing discrimination in housing and employment, all because he chose to fight for his life. His family members, who he still asserts were not involved with his medication, do not deserve their convictions and records either.
One can only hope that this travesty of a prosecution has helped awaken the citizens of Iowa, the United States, and the world at large to the lack of logic and compassion that fuel the War on Drugs, especially cannabis. Medical marijuana and medical cannabis programs are a step in the right direction, but hundreds of people are still going to prison for pot in states with medical legalization.
Photo Credit: The Benton Family (via Facebook)