Activist Who Provided Cannabis To The Sick Given 4 – 6 Year Sentence

After decades of dedicating himself to supporting medical cannabis and providing it to people who were suffering, Dana Beal, 65, of Wahoo, Neb., was sentenced to four to six years of prison time for possessing 150 pounds in his van in Ashland, Neb., in 2009.

But friends of the activist are fighting to spare him from the inflated sentence, insisting to the judge that his efforts were not motivated by money, but instead cast him as a “caring pauper who lives out of a backpack, and who hauled pot so that people with AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases that could reduce their suffering,” according to OMAHA.com.

During the trial, another advocate, Ed Rosenthal pleaded with the judge, “He has this problem: a conflict between the law and conscience, the law and helping people.”

Testifiers said Beal was a cross country courier for 15 years that helped supply affordable cannabis to about 1,000 medical marijuana patients in New York City.

Beal said he wants to continue advocating ibogaine, but is too old and unhealthy to haul marijuana after two heart surgeries while in prison in Wisconsin and  another hernia surgery coming up.

“What I was doing is as obsolete as the Titanic,” Beal said, because of the legalization of pot as medicine in several states.

Nebraska and New York City have not yet legalized medical marijuana but one New Yorker said during the trial that authorities there look the other way when it comes to medical usage.

But Beal had plenty of supporters willing to speak on his behalf.Beal

Marie Cotter of New Zealand, spoke on Beal’s behalf saying he led the legalization of ibogaine treatments in her country, enabling her son to break his addiction to methamphetamine, and a deep depression he had found himself in.

Using a walker because of multiple sclerosis, Sheila Steinberg of New York City, said medical marijuana helps her deal with the mood swings and concentration problems associated with MS.

Another New York resident Michael Binkley said Beal’s supplies of cannabis helped him survive AIDS since 1982.

“If he’s guilty, then the 1,000 members of the buyers club should be in prison, too,” Binkley said. “We exploited Dana.”

But even with good time and prison sentence served during the trial, Beal will spend at least 15 more months behind bars, which is still better than the requested eight to 12 year sentence originally requested by Deputy Saunders County Attorney C. Jo Peterson.

Beal’s maximum sentence could have reached 20 years, for trying to help ease the sick from their suffering.

Beal also faced seven other drug convictions in the past three years.

But Saunders County District Judge Mary Gilbride said Beal deserved his sentence with two trafficking conviction in Wisconsin, and a sentence he said was only “slightly tougher” than sentences given to two other advocates arrested with him that day who received terms of three to four years and two to three years.

Beal’s sentence could be reduced by 126 days, according to attorney, Glenn Shapiro, who is trying to give Beal credit for days he spent in jail in Wisconsin.

Medical marijuana is legal in 18 states, although New York is not one of them, and access and distribution are strictly controlled and limited.

Beal, an original member of the Youth International Party known as “Yippies,” an anti-establishment group during the 1960s, became known for launching pro legalization protest, the Global Marijuana March, held in cities around the world.