Prosecutors are challenging an Iowa cancer patient's use of a medical marijuana defense at his upcoming trial.
Assistant Scott County Attorney Patrick McElyea filed a motion in the case against 47-year-old Benton Mackenzie. He, members of his family and a friend are set to be tried June 2 on drug conspiracy charges.
"We're objecting to use of a medical defense," McElyea said during a hearing Wednesday in Scott County District Court, Davenport.
McElyea cited a 2005 Iowa Supreme Court decision to support his motion. That was a case very similar to the one facing Mackenzie.
Lloyd Bonjour, an AIDS patient in his 60s, was arrested in Floyd County and charged with manufacturing marijuana after sheriff's deputies say they found marijuana plants and bagged marijuana in his home.
Prior to going to trial, Bonjour sought a medical necessity defense and was denied by the judge after prosecutors resisted. He even had his physician testify at a pretrial hearing that Bonjour takes a variety of toxic medications with side effects.
Bonjour was tried before a judge and found guilty. He appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled against him, urging further study by the Iowa Board of Pharmacy and the Iowa Legislature.
"It would be inappropriate now for us to leapfrog the Legislature and the Board of Pharmacy Examiners by simply recognizing the medicinal value, and the legality, of marijuana use," the nine-year-old Supreme Court ruling states.
The state's legislative landscape for medical marijuana has changed in the past few months, if only slightly. Earlier this month, lawmakers legalized a limited amount of marijuana in the form of an oil concentrated with cannabidiol, or CBD, for people who suffer from severe epileptic seizures.
Mackenzie, who shared his story with the Quad-City Times in September, says he was extracting cannabis oil from the plants he grew at home to treat his angiosarcoma, a terminal cancer.
"That's the whole basis of my case," he said in court Wednesday.
Scott County District Judge Henry Latham said he plans to file a written ruling next week on the medical defense issue. He urged attorneys to file arguments on how the recent legislative action may or may not apply to Mackenzie's case.