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Law Enforcement: Veteran Activist Dana Beal Busted in Nebraska -- Supporters Rallying to Help

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #603)
Politics & Advocacy

Long-time marijuana legalization advocate Dana Beal was one of three men arrested October 1 in Ashland, Nebraska, after they were pulled over in a traffic stop and police seized 150 pounds of marijuana. He and the other two men, Christopher Ryan of Ohio and James Statzer of Michigan, are being held in the Saunders County Jail, with bail set at $500,000 for Beal and $100,000 for Ryan and Statzer.

Dana Beal
Beal's supporters have begun a fundraising drive to raise the $50,000 cash bail needed to free him and to pay his legal expenses. They have set up resources online, including the Free Dana Beal Facebook page, web page, and blog.

Beal and company have been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. It's not clear what the penalties for that offense are under Nebraska law, but possession of more than a pound can earn up to five years in prison and sale of any amount is punishable by a one-year mandatory minimum sentence and up to 20 years.

Beal, an erstwhile Yippie activist from the 1970s and permanent fixture on the counterculture scene, heads the New York City-based organization Cures Not Wars, which advocates for the use of ibogaine as a treatment for drug dependence. But he is more widely known for acting as an information clearing house for the annual legalization rallies held each May in more than 200 cities around the planet known as the Global Marijuana March or Million Marijuana March.

The men were traveling from California, where they had attended the annual conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) the previous week. According to local media reports, police stopped the van in which they were riding for "driving erratically," and when the police officer approached the vehicle, he saw "several bags of marijuana in plain view." He then called for assistance, and police then found multiple duffel bags of marijuana, totaling 150 pounds, throughout the vehicle.

Last year, Beal was arrested in Illinois on money-laundering charges after police there seized $150,000 in cash and a small amount of marijuana from his vehicle. The money-laundering charges were later dropped, and Beal pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession. The state of Illinois kept the money. The Chronicle hopes that Beal, Ryan and Statzer will have similarly decent fortunes in the Nebraska system this time.

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)

While the drug war is dumb, while its being fought you have to be smart. Driving erratically while having a bunch of stinky weed in plain view just isn't smart at all. DUH! Use your head ppl, this IS a war. That being said, no one deserves ANY jail time for weed! Power to the peaceful!

Fri, 10/09/2009 - 11:20am Permalink
Jay Statzer (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Dumb cops tell dumb lies, 3 years later (2/24/14) the truth can be said.
And NOW the story can be told MF'r!
The reality was that legally purchased cannabis for a legal form of distribution was running the gauntlet to patients who  paid for and had a right to this cannabis, It was packaged airtight and professionally stowed, but was only found under a bed I slept on when the van was pulled over.  Everything was fine until they ran Dana's ID, and then the van was detained, emptied out, and searched. The story copied here is the exact same kind of COP TALK that our media puts out there as proven fact. Instead, it is an ever changing array of convenient, defamatory and prosecutor's remarks that they are repeating in the complete absence of evidence -or even the police officer's reports. My arresting officer testified that the pot storage area was only accessible from the rear door and there was a large quantity of literature about the medical use of marijuana on board.
There IS a war, a filthy, racist, Civil War on Drugs and in their rules of engagement they will use COP TALK (manufactured probable cause) against you. It is legal not only to lie to a suspect, but lie about the suspect and further tactics used to invent evidence. It's the verbal form of dropping a plant gun after shooting an unarmed man. They use any the nonsensical kind of stuff ONDCP is paid to say about tokers and put some into the media others on police incident briefs and something different out the prosecutor's mouth. Some unethical people would take such lies and expound on them in order to sap away support from a deserving case. To divide activists from their natural allies. They also use COP TALK to counter the progress of decriminalization advocates in public opinion.
Dumb people like COP TALK

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 10:35pm Permalink
eco (not verified)

Dana Beal marches at the head of the New York City Marijuana March in 1994. Larger photo, source info, and free image license info:

There is another link for the Facebook group that pulls up the full version of the page with photos, videos, etc.:

Article with TV news video concerning Dana Beal's arrest on Sept. 30, 2009:
More on Dana Beal, his recent arrest, and his various causes over the years:
Jail address, phone, defense/bail fund, etc:
Latest news:
Dana Beal is the founder of the Global Marijuana March:

Dana Beal's home is at 9 Bleecker St, New York City. See the Yippie Museum Cafe and Gift shop:

Search shortcut of the Google News archive that pulls up many media articles mentioning Dana Beal over many years:

Fri, 10/09/2009 - 3:12pm Permalink
Hempman (not verified)

Whether they want to be or not, all ganja consumers, growers, traders, sellers, gifters, pass that joint-puff-puff-pass are all activists. They really have no choice, because a few governments, driven by irrational American anti-drug policies and politics, have declared war on them. The ones who call themselves drug warriors target not only those who represent, but also the most vulnerable.

NORML has no actual leaders who match the dedication to real change that Dana represents, MPP is a ghost unless they can make name, and DPA, along with all the other acronyms, misses the target BIG TIME by wasting valuable resources on halfway compromiser measures misnamed as "medical marijuana" law. It is sad that it is taking one of Dana's freinds and brothers in arms, Pieman, to lead the battle to gain Dana and crew's liberty.

Where are these other supposed "leaders"? Is DPA, MPP, NORML stepping up to the plate? Of course not. It might be "bad publicity" for them to actively seek direct action to HELP any actual people.

I applaud Pieman's hard work, and I will do what I can to help with the Delaware Cannabis Sociey's more than 1,000 members. We already have our hands full and an empty bank account trying to keep control and maintain the aproximate 285 a year ganja posession only arrest rate in Delaware, and raising appropriate bail and help for them.

With NO PATIENTS being arrested in Delware, and the atmosphere ripe for a comprehensive ganja law reform, MPP has now paid a lobbyist to pitch a half-baked, unnecesary "medical marijuana" law that WILL actually make things worse. It will destroy an existing generic medical necesity affirmative defense and instead of ANY medical need it will limit those covered to only seven diseases. It WILL create three NEW anti-recreational/anti-religious criminal laws with piss poor compromises that will end up, as in other states, acting like a green light for law enforcement to start arresting recreational and religious consumers again.

The monied groups with all the fancy acronyms are too enamoured of protecting their vested interests to find out what real activists have already been doing, In fact, they go out of their way to denigrate and undermine decades of hard work instead of moving forward against the war. So, we get outflanked by those who are supposed leaders and have to stretch already strained resources.

To Stop the Drug War, we have to STOP THE HALF_WITTED COMPROMISES being pushed on us by self-agrandizing acronyms. The ONLY solution is to stop arresting people, not further compromise away their rights just to get any half-assed gasrbage legislation passed with some self-serving accronym attached.

Fri, 10/09/2009 - 4:06pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Hempman (not verified)

The formal reform organizations are missing the boat. Whether that is deliberate (legalization means they are no longer needed) or some kind of misunderstanding of the situation, I cannot say; but the stonewalling of full legalization measures is just plain wrong and compromises that are not gains are even worse.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Sat, 10/10/2009 - 3:45pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by Moonrider (not verified)


I appreciate that passions are riding high right now, and I'm glad that that's the case. And I'm glad that people are mobilizing to help get Dana freed, then to take it from there.

That said, these two comments are a little silly, in my opinion, and I'd like to address why. First of all, legalization efforts are not being "stonewalled," they are being pursued. Even groups that don't explicitly call for legalization of all drugs, like we do at DRCNet, are at least calling for legalization of marijuana.

It's true that full legalization efforts mostly are on the educational side, while a lot on the advocacy side of things goes into more incremental reform efforts. But that's not because we're missing the boat, and it's certainly not because groups don't want legalization to happen - that's an especially silly speculation to make.

The reason is that we're smart people who spend much of our time thinking about activism, and we understand the ways that change usually comes in society. Unfortunately, positive change almost always comes slowly and gradually. When change appears to move swiftly, it's because of changes that have transpired in the background over decades to make that possible. How long did abolitionists work to end slavery, before it happened? Centuries, and then civil rights took decades and is still a work in progress.

I don't think we'll need centuries for legalization -- I certainly hope not -- but the fact is that we involve ourselves in incremental change, while also educating about the need for big and systemic change, because we don't want to be irrelevant -- because we actually want to change things for the better, not just talk about how things suck now. It's ironic that these kinds of comments are being made as part of a discussion about helping Dana Beal. While I don't know Dana extremely well, I do know him, and we have friends in common. Dana's group has supported many incremental issues, including medical marijuana, needle exchange, and repealing the Rockefeller drug laws, to name a few.

Two last things, in reply to comments by hempman. First, hempman asked, why aren't organizations directly involved in mobilizing the campaign for Dana? It's because we're all doing the things we think we're in a position to do and make an impact with, in order to help everybody. In our case, we used this newsletter and our blog to publicize Dana's situation in the reform community, thereby getting the word out about the bail fund and facilitating people who read our newsletter who care about it to talk to each other.

If we took on organizing a new campaign -- always a massive task -- we'd have to stop doing everything else we're doing, and the newsletter and site would fall apart or fizzle. We would then be unable to do what we do to help with anything, whether it be legislative, education, letting people know about the next bust, etc. We only have a few staff members here, but even at the large groups, they would be making the same kind of choice, because their time is already structured for their long-term strategies too.

Second, hempman took the position that all marijuana users are activists by definition. Sorry, that's just not the case. The vast majority of marijuana users are not politically active on this issue. If just one percent of them became active, prohibition would end almost immediately, and people like Dana certainly wouldn't be behind bars.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Sat, 10/10/2009 - 4:07pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

"Erratic driving" my eye, I think that's a lie. Probably pro-tobackgo spies at the NORML conference supplied "friends" in Nebraska with a list of vehicles/license plates to look for... The rude commentor above may also think it was stupid not to anticipate such doings, and to risk taking poundages of herb along, but I admit I would have had a tough time resisting the temptation considering that vehicle space was going to waste. Anyway, that's one reason I don't show myself at activist conferences at all, and depend more exclusively on my bodacious writing talent from anonymous city library computers.

Fri, 10/09/2009 - 6:09pm Permalink
eco (not verified)

Google Books:

Google Scholar:

Google News archive. These search shortcuts pull up many media articles mentioning Dana Beal over many years. There is more than one Dana Beal in the articles though, so other search words such as "marijuana" or "ibogaine" need to be added:

Google Blog search. Useful for finding some more background info, and links to better sources, and media articles not indexed by Google News.


Sat, 10/10/2009 - 9:17am Permalink
Jeff A.K.A. Yi… (not verified)

Free Dana Beal Free Paul Gilman Free Brian. What is it with Nebraska? Is Nebraska so anti-marijuana? Marijuana is an herb Bush is a dope.

Legalize It Don't Critcize It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Free Arnold (Art) Taylor lost his job as a sanitation worker out on Long Island as a result of the drug wars and may lose his house that belonged to his parents. He worked for the department of sanitation for nearly eighteen years.

Stop the snitches!!!!!!!!!! Snitches deserved to be on facebook etc and there needs to be a PIE FATWA against them.



Sat, 10/10/2009 - 10:49am Permalink
mindwideopen (not verified)

just thinking aloud:
During alcohol prohibition, drinking was temporarily illegal right? so.... When it became available again, they basically “rolled back” the rules to old ones. Same situation here. Maybe should think/talk in those terms-We aren't so much changing the law & legalizing something, but going back to the previous rules.
I reject the idea of any kind of “war”. personally I'm not fighting anyone over this issue. The dark side does not define the terms to me. It is not a Drug WAR. Can we please call it something else. refuse to “fight” a "war" & focus down on talking facts, science, logic, & commonsense.
The winds of change are blowing strong. The White House Office of National Drug Policy is in the process of re-evaluating its policies on Marijuana. U.S.Attorney General Eric Holder sez that The Justice Department would defer to State laws. California is going over, & like dominoes, the other States will follow. The outcome is inevitable...And sooner than we think. Nevertheless, we're dealing with ignorantcorrupthypocriticallyinggreedyretrogradebigots & I for one will not let them define the terms of the game.

Sat, 10/10/2009 - 11:48pm Permalink
Blair Anderson (not verified)

Is yet to be put before a court. We haven't heard from Dana what happened.

Speculative stuff is not helpful. We need facts. Three people know what happened. They were in the van.

How the case is heard will have a bearing on the outcome, and that is a long way down the track.

I agree with Borden, there is much to be done and precious few to do it.

The activism has to come from grass roots tokers. The evidence (for reform) is on our side.

I have known Dana for many years, even from the other side of the globe. Dana recently visited New Zealand and was interviewed on our national radio network. His influence has been evident in NZ for the past ten or so years with all our major cities taking part in the GMM, and his generous time has contributed significantly to increasing exposure around drug issues in ways that have complemented the good work of LEAP, EFFICACY, DPA and other academics and activists who have engaged here.

(New Zealand's Law Commission is conducting a wide ranging evaluation of ALL drug policy, including the efficacy of the international conventions. It has the potential to be a real ball breaker!)

Dana's contribution has been the long view. The GMM has been picked up by NORML (NZ) and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) and has given good reason for many to attend events, lend support to reform initiatives and contribute time and resources. The world needs more yippies like Dana. He is deserving of our support no matter what the charges he and his compatriots face.

/Blair (see the MMM/GMM posters, Another MildGreen Initiative, Christchurch, NZ)

Mon, 10/12/2009 - 9:43am Permalink
Mike Kinney (not verified)

I think the I-80 exit to Ashland is 420. I have a movie script I have written about individuals being stopped on interstate 80 and ending up in a county jail. Its titled "The Good Life" a pun on Welcome to Nebraska. It serious but quite funny. Anyone who knows who wants to make a serious but funny movie about the prohabition of marijuana and its insane consiquence you can contact me at [email protected].
I am employeed in the Corrections industy and have 18 years of sad but funny stories.

Fri, 11/20/2009 - 12:17pm Permalink

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