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Busted: Veteran Yippie Activist Dana Beal Arrested in Illinois

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #539)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Dana Beal, a permanent fixture on the counterculture scene and a veteran New York City-based activist perhaps best known for organizing the annual Global Marijuana Marches and smoke-ins for the past 30 years, was arrested last week in Illinois on money-laundering charges. But at a court hearing Thursday, the original charge was abandoned and Beal was charged with the much lesser offense of obstruction of justice. He was able to make the $7,500 cash bond set at that hearing and is now a free man, at least for now.

Dana Beal
According to the New York Times, which cited local law enforcement officials, Beal was arrested after officers from the Mattoon Police Department arrived at a local restaurant on June 3 upon receiving a report of two women creating a disturbance inside. (A private source told Drug War Chronicle it was a daughter helping her disabled mother, who had become flustered with a physical situation.) The two women were traveling with two men, one of whom was Beal. Witnesses told police they saw Beal, who was in a van outside the restaurant, placing bags beneath nearby vehicles. When police opened the bags, they found more than $150,000 cash. They then brought in drug-sniffing dogs, who alerted on the cash.

"They're saying the money smelled like marijuana," Beal's local attorney told the Times.

The Times reported that Beal had told friends he was traveling with the cash because he was planning to finance an ibogaine clinic with it. Beal is a long-time advocate for ibogaine, which he and others argue can be used to break addictions to other drugs.

Although Beal was originally charged with money-laundering, local prosecutors may have figured out that a US Supreme Court ruling last week cut the legs out from under them. In that case, Regalado Cuellar v. US, the high court ruled that merely hiding money in a vehicle does not constitute money laundering. Instead, prosecutors must show that the money was hidden with the purpose of hiding the true source of the funds. Illinois prosecutors said they may try to file money-laundering charges later, but that will require more evidence than merely hiding money.

Still, Beal is currently facing charges and his money is now in the hands of Illinois authorities. Whether he can keep his freedom -- or get the cash back -- remains to be seen.

At least two web sites, Steve Bloom's Celeb Stoner and the Weird Load: Only in America blog are providing frequent updates on Beal's ordeal. The latter features a jailhouse interview with him.

(Drug War Chronicle will publish information on Beal's legal defense fund when it becomes available.)

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

it would appear the road to hell is paved with good intentions. signed Charlie Bananas Bwiti Initiate

Fri, 06/13/2008 - 5:23pm Permalink
eco (not verified)

Fri, 06/13/2008 - 10:21pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

At least the latter site is bogus. Do NOT send any money to the jail. It's a lie. Someone is trying to abscond with money that could be used to actually help Dana/The Cause.

I'm an old friend of the Hoffman's. And I'm not kidding you. They are trying to rob you.

Wed, 06/18/2008 - 10:57am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Dana Beal is a humanitarian who should not be arrested!!! He's a dedicated activist!

Isn't there a rapist out there somewhere who got let out of jail yesterday who the police oughta keep an eye on instead?

Thu, 06/19/2008 - 11:43am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The image identified as Abbie and Dana, is actually Andrew Hoffman, Abbie's son, with Dana. Likely taken at the 1996 Democratic Convention protests in Chicago.

Sending money to the jail is a bad idea. There were people from two states on the way to bail him when they found out he was already sprung. Irvin Danforth Beal, is the right name though.

Tue, 07/08/2008 - 3:24pm Permalink
eco (not verified)

See the DRCnet article:
Law Enforcement: Veteran Activist Dana Beal Busted in Nebraska -- Supporters Rallying to Help.

Facebook group:


Sat, 10/31/2009 - 12:09am Permalink


Geez Dana, keep the women under control....  Speaking of trolls, I wonder how there local police will handle this caper...??  Dana Beal taught me that criminalizing harmless persuits like pot smoking & nude sunbathing is a Nazi reflex........  and I think he is correct....  Hang in there Dana.......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mon, 03/14/2011 - 8:15pm Permalink

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