Benton Mackenzie is heading to the pot-friendly state of Oregon with a wad of donated cash and hopes for marijuana juice the moment he gets off the plane.
"I have word there will be fresh juice for me right when I get off the plane," he said Monday. "I'm going to hit that like it's going out of style."
The 48-year-old terminal cancer patient was convicted earlier this month along with his wife of growing marijuana in their rural Scott County home. They await sentencing in Scott County District Court, Davenport.
At about $380 an ounce, buying the drug will be one of the biggest challenges. His health insurance won't pay for marijuana, so he's relying on the generosity of family and friends around the country who have been sending in donations.
"It totally shocked me they were actually getting me money to go buy pot," he said. "Some I didn't think agreed with the medical application of marijuana."
If he can get past sitting on a tight plane for a several-hour flight, which he says is "torture," he is looking forward to getting that juice.
Hopefully, someone will remember to add enough fruit.
"Without fruit, it tastes like someone took a bag of lawn clippings and ran them through a juicer," he said.
Mackenzie hopes to get some medical relief on his trip to Oregon, which passed a medical marijuana law in 1998.
He applied for and received an Oregon medical cannabis card after meeting with a doctor and getting the doctor's recommendation during a previous trip to the state.
A cardholder can possess up to 24 ounces of medical marijuana at any one time, according to Oregon's laws.
Mackenzie wishes he could bring it home, but Iowa law won't allow it.
He says that with the right strain of marijuana, especially one rich in cannabidiol, he'll feel an effect within a day or two of using the oil. Vaporizing the drug will provide pain relief, he added.
Mackenzie suffers from the late stages of angiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels in which tumors appear as skin lesions. He said Monday one tumor on his rear has grown larger than his fist.
"I call that one 'ground zero,'" he said. "I'm not sure if it's able to be slowed down or stopped."
He says that until his arrest a year ago, he grew marijuana in order to treat his cancer with oil derived from the plant. A judge barred him from raising that defense at trial earlier this month.
Treatments that included rubbing the oil on his tumors and vaporizing and juicing other parts of the plant kept the tumors from growing and spreading and, in some instances, even shrunk them, he says. He kept logs to keep track of the progress.
Scott County Sheriff's deputies seized 71 marijuana plants from his Long Grove home during a raid June 21, 2013. He said deputies confiscated at least a month's worth of treatment, and his health has deteriorated ever since.
He was rushed to the hospital in the middle of his trial for a blood transfusion to curb symptoms of anemia.
Tumors pepper his left thigh, rear and torso, and for surgery to be effective, whole chunks of his body would have to be removed, he says.
Dr. Charles Goldman, a cancer surgeon at Mercy Hospital, Des Moines, told the Quad-City Times for a story on the Mackenzie case last September that chemotherapy has only a 50 percent cure rate in angiosarcoma patients.
Mackenzie says he faces at least three years in prison, which he considers a "death sentence."
"I've got one foot in the grave, I guess," he said.