Benton Mackenzie, shows his relief after learning his sentence of guilty and 3-years probation. Mr. Mackenzie plans to appeal his verdict.

Louis Brems

Benton Mackenzie won’t go to prison. He’ll face treatment for his terminal cancer at home, or hopefully in Oregon where cannabis-derived medication is legal and available.

But he still faces arrest in Iowa for attempting to use any cannabis treatment, even in forms that cannot lead to intoxication. A Quad-City judge couldn't bring himself to jail Mackenzie and his family.

But Iowa law still would.

The narrow law approved last session allows only those with a certain type of epilepsy to have a cannabis ointment. But it leaves them at risk of arrest for making it, buying it, or transporting it from out of state. A bipartisan panel of Iowa lawmakers last week suggested modest reforms to make it easier for more Iowans to get cannabis medications.

Iowans deserve more. They need laws that allow medical professionals – not lawmakers – to determine medications. They need laws – just like those regulating alcohol -- that distinguish among medical uses, recreational consumption and abusive intoxication.

“Reefer madness” was the term comically attributed to marijuana in the 1936 film of the same name. Today’s reefer madness continues to waste millions on ineffective criminal enforcement, ruin lives of medicinal and casual users, and deprive severely ill patients of proven relief.