Pubdate: Fri, 07 Sep 2012
Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE)
Copyright: 2012 Omaha World-Herald Company
Author: Paul Hammel


LINCOLN - One of the original members of the '60s revolutionary 
group, the Yippies, was found guilty this week of possession of 
marijuana with intent to deliver after being caught with 155 pounds 
of baled pot in a van at Ashland, Neb.

Saunders County District Judge Mary Gilbride, in an order dated 
Tuesday, also rejected, for the second time the use of a "choice of 
evils" defense by Dana Beal, 65, of New York City, a long-time 
advocate for using marijuana as medicine, and the official historian 
of the Yippie Museum.

Beal, at a trial last month, admitted he was a passenger three years 
ago in a van carrying the marijuana.

But in court and in jail interviews, he has said his crime should be 
set aside because the cannabis was being delivered to a group of AIDS 
and cancer sufferers in New York and Michigan who use the pot for 
pain relief, appetite enhancement and for other medical reasons.

Beal and his attorney, Glenn Shapiro of Omaha, said they want a jury 
to weigh whether Beal had chosen a lesser evil -and should be found 
innocent - because he chose to break the law to provide medicine for 
sick people.

Seventeen states have legalized marijuana for medical uses, but 
Nebraska and New York are not among them.

Shapiro or Beal could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon, 
but both have said they plan to appeal the conviction.

Beal will be sentenced on Nov. 19. The marijuana delivery charge is a 
felony, punishable by five to 50 years in prison. Two others arrested 
in the van, James Statzer and Christopher Ryan, were sentenced to 36 
to 48 months and 24 to 36 months, respectively, in prison.

Saunders County Attorney Scott Tinglehoff said his office would not 
have a sentencing recommendation for Beal until after a pre-sentence 
investigation is completed.

But, he said, it was unlikely that he will not recommend some time in 
prison because Beal, while he was awaiting a trial on the 2009 drug 
stop in Nebraska, was arrested in Wisconsin for transporting pot 
across that state.

"He obviously doesn't care about following the law and acts like he's 
above it," Tinglehoff said. "Because of that, we have a problem with it."

The Yippies, or Youth International Party, were a radical group that 
used satire and pranks to mock the status quo. They were best known 
for leading protests that disrupted the Democratic National 
Convention in 1968. Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman were among their leaders.

One fellow Yippie, Ed Rosenthal, is among the Beal supporters who 
have said they will testify at his sentencing hearing.
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