Marijuana Policy Project
Curved Papers

RIP Benton MacKenzie: Iowa Patient Dies After Being Convicted for Growing

Cody, Benton and Loretta MacKenzie outside the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport, Iowa, where they were convicted. (Quad City Times)

Cancer patient Benton Mackenzie passed away on Jan. 12. He, his wife and son were all found guilty in a Davenport, Iowa court on marijuana charges on July 9 and sentenced to probation in September. Benton was not allowed to mount a medical-marijuana defense.

"It's an abomination of justice," he said at the time. "I'm flabbergasted the court ordered me to not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Ben MacKenzie in full regalia.

Benton, who lived in Long Grove with his wife Loretta and 23-year-old son Cody, was caught with 71 pot plants growing in their home in 2013. He and Loretta were charged with manufacturing, conspiracy, violation of the state's drug stamp act and possession of paraphernalia. Cody was hit with possession and paraphernalia charges.

MacKenzie, who was 49, had two prior convictions for growing marijuana and mushrooms. 

Despite suffering from angiosarcoma, he wasn't allowed to discuss his medicinal use of marijuana, which he ingested in oil form, during the trial. Last year, Iowa passed a law that allows the use of CBD oil for seizures, but the state doesn't protect patients with cancer conditions. (The oli isn't available yet in Iowa.)

After the trial, MacKenzie sought relief in Oregon, where he'd visited several times. But by December he was too sick to travel.

"I think it's built to a point where it has to make a change," Mackenzie said about the marijuana laws in September. "Something's going to happen. It's un-ignorable."

His mother, Dottie, sadly told family and friends in an email, "Ben's battle is finally over."

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.