PORTLAND, Ore. — Benton Mackenzie is well known in Iowa. His recent trial and conviction for growing cannabis on his parents’ rural property made for page-one news, closely watched by marijuana activists nationwide.
On Tuesday, though, Mackenzie was just another Oregon medical marijuana patient, hoping to find the right strain and preparation of cannabis to ease the debilitating symptoms of his terminal cancer.
Mackenzie, 48, arrived at Portland International Airport in the morning, accompanied by his wife, Loretta, 43, and their son, Cody, 22. The couple earlier this month was convicted in Scott County District Court of felony manufacturing marijuana, conspiracy, violation of the drug tax stamp act and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Their son was convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
The family members will be sentenced next month. Benton Mackenzie, who has two prior drug-related convictions, including one for manufacturing marijuana, faces up to five years in prison.
The family left their legal problems this week to make one last trip to Oregon, the only state in the country that allows out-of-staters to enroll in its medical marijuana program. According to the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the medical marijuana program, 1,342 people from other states are Oregon medical marijuana patients.
During his flight, Mackenzie used a morphine pump to control pain from what he said is stage-four angiosarcoma, a rare and especially deadly form of cancer that affects the blood vessel lining. He said he hopes to rely less on narcotics once he obtains cannabis oil from one of Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries.
His wife, who serves as Mackenzie’s designated caregiver in the medical marijuana program, said the family was relieved to land in Oregon.
“It feels great,” Loretta Mackenzie said, as a skycap wheeled her husband to the baggage carousel. “It always does.”
Benton Mackenzie said an Oregon medical marijuana advocate planned to meet him at his Portland hotel later Tuesday with cannabis products he thinks will help him: a juice made from raw marijuana and either butane hash oil or a cannabis concentrate known as Rick Simpson Oil.
Mackenzie struggles with severe pain and said he’s hoping to find a product high in cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC.
“The more I take,” he said, “the slower (the cancer) grows.”