Testimony begins today in the trial of an Iowa cancer patient and his family who are accused of growing marijuana last year.

On Wednesday, attorneys selected 12 jurors — seven men and five women — and three alternates to hear the case of Benton Mackenzie, 48, his wife Loretta, 43, and son Cody, 22.

Benton and Loretta Mackenzie are charged with manufacturing marijuana, conspiracy, violation of the drug tax stamp act, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cody Mackenzie is charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Late Wednesday, Assistant Scott County Attorney Patrick McElyea gave jurors a short peek at what he expects to prove at trial.

According to McElyea, the family lived with Benton Mackenzie’s parents, Charles and Dorothy, at 27120 183rd Ave., Long Grove, on June 21, 2013.

On that day, Scott County sheriff’s deputies raided the property and discovered an RV and trailer parked next to the side of the house.

Inside, deputies discovered 60 to 70 marijuana plants, as well as electrical, ventilation and water equipment, McElyea said.

“This is no small operation,” he told jurors. “This was the real deal.”

In a safe under Cody Mackenzie’s bed, deputies found marijuana. Smoking pipes and other paraphernalia were found in his bedroom and in the house, McElyea said.

Deputies discovered that the RV was registered to the mother of Stephen Bloomer, a longtime friend of Benton Mackenzie. Mail addressed to Bloomer was also found in the RV, McElyea said.

A search of Bloomer’s property in Davenport turned up receipts for marijuana growing equipment and Mackenzie’s car parked at the house. Deputies found other documentation that linked the two, McElyea said.

Benton Mackenzie, who uses a wheelchair, sat quietly with hands clasped in front of him as McElyea laid out the case. Occasionally, he picked at his fingers. Mackenzie has repeatedly and publicly said that he grew marijuana to extract cannabis oil to treat painful lesions produced by his angiosarcoma, a terminal cancer.

Iowa law does not allow medical marijuana. Scott County District Judge Henry Latham ruled in May that the law does not allow medicinal necessity as a legal defense.

Benton Mackenzie is represented by Joel Walker; Loretta Mackenzie is represented by Rebecca Ruggero; and Cody Mackenzie is represented by Derek Jones.

Defense attorneys said Wednesday that they will give their opening arguments after McElyea rests his case.

Latham said Monday that the trial is expected to last 10 days. However, attorneys have indicated this week that the trial could end sooner.

Bloomer, 49, pleaded guilty Monday to manufacturing marijuana in the case. He is expected to testify against the Mackenzies.

Charles and Dorothy Mackenzie, 76 and 75, are charged with hosting a drug house. They have not yet been tried.

(33) comments


As the rest of the country is moving on by legalizing and taxing marijuana for the benefit of the citizens, Iowa seems stuck in the corn (GMO & High Fructose Corn Syrup, which has far more devastating health consequences).
US Gov't patent# 6630507 PROVES marijuana has health benefits.
"Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care." - Finding of Fact by Francis L. Young, Administrative Law Judge, UNITED STATES Dept. of Justice, Drug Enforcement Admin., In The Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition, Docket no. 86-22, Sept. 6, 1988.
WE THE PEOPLE are sick and tired of seeing our children and loved ones imprisoned and taken from us on the false pretense of a contrived and misguided "War On Drugs", which was doomed to failure at its inception, just as the previous farce of a Prohibition (Alcohol) that these pillars of Iowa society have failed to learn the lessons of. It only serves to enrich a criminal class of government operatives that profit from private prisons while depriving the citizens of honest gov't and the benefits of a tax revenue source.
What can be said about the pillars of Iowa society who profit by poisoning people with GMO corn and soybeans and high fructose corn syrup that causes cancer, diabetes, obesity and other diseases, yet prosecutes and persecutes those who attempt to cure disease with beneficial remedies ?
The agenda against the MacKenzie family is an agenda against the American Family itself.
In the face of such judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, there is only one just remedy: A trial (or new trial in this case) before a Fully Informed and honestly selected jury, with an honest judge presiding.
Any judge that violates his oath of office to "...Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution..." has committed imprisonable offense (Misprison of Felony). Ordering the defense that he cannot use his defense is judicial misconduct. Apparently this judge is indifferent to the defendant's right to allocution, his right to self defense as guaranteed by the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Human Rights, Acts 25:16....this is an act of tyranny.

Arc Angel

Why are they wearing black? They search people entering the courthouse don't they?


They should have been left alone in the first place!


-He cautioned Mr. Mackenzie that if he tried to present medical marijuana as a defense to jurors, he could be found in contempt of court and thrown in jail for up to six months.-


Yes, because it's not a legal defense. Manufacturing marijuana for personal use, whatever that use is, is prohibited by statute.

Mango C
Mango C

Why did the judge reject a medical necessity defense? Hasn't medical necessity has been successfully invoked in other jurisdictions where manufacturing marijuana is illegal?

Mango C
Mango C

Nevermind my prior question, I discovered an answer: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ia-supreme-court/1433070.html

BUT, due to changes since the case was decided in 2005, particularly the Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommendation of 2010, then I suspect the judge's ruling in MacKenzie is susceptible to being overturned.


JUDGE NEEDS TO DROP THE CHARGES AND DISMISS- "Shaking his head, Mr. Mackenzie angrily told attorneys in the courtroom, "Why don't we just put execution on the table? ... Either kill me or let me go.


The judge does not have the legal justification to dismiss the case. The plain language of the law is clear: "Except as authorized by this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance, a counterfeit substance, or a simulated controlled substance, or to act with, enter into a common scheme or design with, or conspire with one or more other persons to manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, a counterfeit substance, or a simulated controlled substance." Iowa Code Section 124.401(1).

Is there any dispute that they were engaged in growing (manufacturing) marijuana? No. Is the growing of marijuana for the purposes claimed by the defendants authorized by statute? No. If you disagree with a law, the remedy is to change that law. People have griped and complained about judges legislating from the bench (ironically at times when they have not), but then call for them to do just (as in this case) that when it suits their own purposes and agenda.

Channing Webster

You are essentially arguing that the law is to be applied irrespective of whether or not it is just.. It is to be followed blindly irrespective of consequence in all circumstances.

This was the rationale of the German judiciary in the aftermath of the holocaust. This is an argument used by racists for Jim Crow laws and before that the administration of slavery.

None of these laws would have change if not for those, like MLK and John Browne, who had the wisdom and courage to break them first. Tragically, their tasks were made exponentially more difficult by largely forgotten officials making the same argument as you have made.

Respectfully, We the People have seen fit to reject such an argument, which has shamed the history of our great nation.


You're comparing this case to the extermination and enslavement of entire peoples for no other reason than who they were??? I think you have a considerable lack of perspective. Such a comparison cheapens and diminishes the actual horrors perpetrated in the past. Shame on you.

Channing Webster

I think you know very well I am referring to the argument you made as justification for why the case should be prosecuted. It's an argument you obviously seem unable to defend. I can imagine it looked good to you when you wrote it, however.

Channing Webster

Criminal cases prosecuting the medical use of marijuana should matter to everyone, regardless of how they feel about the issue itself. The reason is that public opinion veers heavily towards viewing these kinds of prosecutions as being unjust. Therefore, when these cases are brought to court they cheapen all laws by perverting the connection between the law and the perception of right and wrong.


Bringing up slavery and the Holocaust probably like good to you when you wrote it.

The proper venue for such consideration of whether laws are just or unjust is the legislature, comprised of individuals elected to represent the people. It's not the business of judges to decide what they think the law should be and legislate from the bench. As long as a law doesn't violate the Constitution, the courts cannot ignore a law.


such a sad story, these people are not criminals at all. They are only looking for some relief for their loved one by growing marijuana and using it's oil. I have not read anywhere that they ever sold any of it or hurt anyone . I pray the law changes soon so that people that are suffering from cancer or any other life altering sickness may find relief. You can tell this man isn't putting it on. Prayers with the family.


NOT GUILTY !!!!!!!


"The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."-John Jay 1st Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1789

"The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts."-Samuel Chase, U.S. supreme Court Justice 1796, Signer of the unanimous Declaration

"The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact." Oliver Wendlel Holmes, U.S. suprem Court Justice. 1902

"The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided." - Harlan Stone, 12th Chief Justice. U.S. supreme Court. 1941.

"The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge..." U.S. v Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113,1139. (1972)

"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void." Marbury v Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803)

"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them." - Miranda v Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491

"No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it." 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d. Sec 256

"The jury has an unreviewable and unreversible power...to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the judge...(emphasis added) - U.S. v Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139 (1972)

Make no mistake, A corrupt "judge" will NOT Inform the Jury of its right. A corrupt judge will attempt to bully by order or decree that a jury MUST follow the law as "I" explain it. Corrupt judges will undermine the intent of the law through misinformation in the instructions he issues to the jury.


"Few (uniformed) jurors understand that their role is to protect fellow citizens from government tyranny, and that their first consideration is to protect the person on trial from the viciousness, greed, and ambition of government-paid employees of the same government that is making the laws, which violate human rights no less than slavery laws violated human rights. It was informed jurors who helped end slavery. Informed jurors today can help end all government abuses of human rights that are committed by government employees. Jurors are to protect people from these cruel laws, which make us slaves of government. Government wishes to own our bodies, our lives, and our productivity." Ilio Jone, Executive Director of the Fully Informed Jury Association (406) 442-7800


Wrong. You're getting jurors mixed up with everyone else in the judicial system. Jurors follow the law.


TOBACCO KILLS 1200 Americans EVERY day and yet no ban. U.S. Gov't patent #6630507 PROVES marijuana has health benefits. "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safel used within a supervised routine of medical care."- Finding of Fact by FRANCIS L. YOUNG, Administrative Law Judge UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Drug Enforcement Administration In The Matter Of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition, Docket No. 86-22, Dated: Sept. 6, 1988.
WE THE PEOPLE are sick & tired of seeing our children and loved ones imprisoned and taken from us. Tax payers deserve honest gov't and refusing to legalize it and tax it are telling signs of who is less than honest. Apparently, too many Iowa legislators have failed to learn the lessons of the previous prohibition (Alcohol), or they are indifferent and are not representing the people but special corporate interests that profit by putting people in prison at tax payers expense, while they write themselves a six figure salary.
Judges and Prosecutors have discretion. Without it there would be no Abuse of Discretion.
Notice how they routinely fail to prosecute white collar crimes ? ie Violating their oaths of office to Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution...? This case has plenty of violations that will be swept under their carpet. Their houses and souls are filthy. Immoral. Corrupt. SHAMELESS because they are void of conscience.
In 2012, New Hampshire passed HB 146, A FULLY INFORMED JURY Bill, which guaranteed defendants the ability in court "to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy." Poor Henry Latham has violated his oath in ORDERING that the defendant not tell the whole truth, use his medical condition as a defense. Does Henry know the law ? The law says a man has a right to self defense. Henry is essentially tying this dying man's hands behind his back. What a cowardly act. Acts 25:16 is where OUR law comes from. A man has a right to be FACED by his accuser (a injured person or some who has a claim of damages) This case LACKS A VALID CAUSE OF ACTION. THAT IS THE LAW, but Henry and his Officers of the Court (Secret Society Masonic Devil Worshipers / BAR assc.) do not want the truth to be revealed.
IF a juror feels that the law is a bad law, an unjust law, even if it was "violated," the juror has the Right And Moral Obligation to veto that law by voting NOT GUILTY. These defense lawyers need to ensure that the "judge" includes this in the JURY INSTRUCTIONS. The JURY MUST be Informed of their rights to JURY NULLIFICATION. CALL (406) 442-7800 for more info


What a waste of taxpaying dollars. Go after a theiving crackhead, a violent drunk, someone with actual criminal intent. He has CANCER and is DYING. To raid his garbage n push it this far when he is hurting no one is beyond me. And I totally agree with HA HA up there. I am a recovering addict myself, and medical proof suggest that marijuana is NOT addictive physically. Most people do not steal, lie, manipulate, get violent, commit crimes just to smoke a little pot. I personall will not touch it again, as I refuse to put anything mood or mind altering in my body... but seriously. ANY DRUG IS WORSE THAN POT. It's the least dangerous on the market, and we could be making a fortune off the taxes on it to keep the state afloat.... This case is REDICULOUS!


If I am on the jury, this guy, his wife, and his aging parents walk free. Why we would raid this house at all is beyond me. He was bothering no one, so we send in the storm troopers. C'mon, he has terminal cancer! Back off and go after some real criminals who have actual bad intent and victims.


1st let me disclaim that I work in law enforcement. I personally think this a huge waste of time. Pot should be decriminalized and available like tobacco and alcohol. The tax dollars we spend enforcing the marijuana stamp act as well as other frivolous drug offenses involving pot is wasteful. We should be doing what the State of Washington is doing be legalizing marijuana, regulating it, and taxing it. The projected tax revenue for any state that does this is in the billions and is also offset by the tax payer savings in not having to pay to enforce stupid pot laws. But the do-gooders of society say that we can't do this because it is a gateway drug. What a bunch of BS. 9-10 people that I've arrested for pot crimes are the easiest going non-violent offenders. The bottom line this is all about money and our government is chasing it the wrong way. The Stamp act is predicated on selling these ‘products’ without the government being able to get their cut i.e. tax revenue. We’re spending way more money reacting to this issue (enforcement) than taking a proactive stance (legalizing/taxing) and reaping the tax revenue by decriminalizing marijuana.


This is crazy. The county attorney has discretion as to whether to charge and try these people. Get a little perspective, prosecutors.


Prosecutors have some discretion, yes, but they generally limit the exercise of that discretion to cases where there is ambiguity of legislative intent. On this issue, the Iowa legislature has been fairly clear that they oppose the general concept of medical marijuana use (with the exception now of severe epilepsy). Even then, it is illegal for an epileptic to grow or otherwise manufacture marijuana. The oil must be purchased with a prescription. The legislature has been clear on this. Your blame on prosecutors is misplaced.


A good prosecutor exercises discretion with every case. It's why it's an elected office. People vote for the guy who's going to handle cases appropriately.


The case-by-case discretion is weighing the evidence against what needs to be proved in court. The legislature has made their intent clear. Blame them, and petition them to change the law.


I agree, the law is clear. But I simply repeat, it's up the the prosecutor to decide which cases to prosecute. He doesn't have to prosecute every case that comes to his desk, even if the facts support the charge.

We don't elect robots. Robots would do the job cheaper. No. We elect people to use their brains, sense of fairness and discretion in a manner he believes is best for his county and broader society.

Channing Webster

It would be interesting to watch this 10 day trail. Lots of testimony to be given. Lots of ways for this jury to get a whiff of this being about "medical" marijuana. Last poll I saw said 82% of Americans favor medical marijuana. It just takes 1 out of 12 of this 82% to hang a jury.

While it would be unethical for an attorney to argue outwardly for nullification, if the jury becomes so inclined organically, a good lawyer need only erect a paper mâché defense (ie a frame up by police). Juries can use any justification to acquit as long as it's based in evidence. Even if the judge rules his courtroom with an iron fist there's little he can do to prevent the defendant from being terminally ill, which will very likely be all that's needed to plant this medical marijuana seed in the minds of jurors.

If I were a prosecutor trying this very public case, i'd be worried about its outcome and even more worried about my place in the community if I won. I'd be inclined to be overly generous with plea agreements. But then, I'm a man with a conscience and would therefore never argue such a case. Never.

Channing Webster

There are plenty of cases where discretion.is used when facts are not in doubt. Weekly poker games, non DUI alcohol related infractions are two perfect examples.


And, you know, cases where an illegal substance is the only thing that can help a guy with BLOOD VESSEL CANCER. Honestly, I've never known anyone who had this, but it sounds absolutely horrendous.


Finch, it does sound like a terrible disease. That makes it all the more disturbing when some on these comment boards have wished the disease on others involved in this case.


So sorry the family has to go through this on top of everything else!!!

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