Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2017
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2017 The Tribune Co.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates
to the 1960s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22
pounds of illegal marijuana, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in far
Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted
weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit.
James Statzer, 51, of Michigan, also was arrested.

The arrest occurred along a well-traveled highway in California's
famed Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police
dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was

Both men pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing drugs for sale
and felony transportation charges and were being held in lieu of
$75,000 bail.

Beal has been promoting marijuana's medical benefits for decades. His
activism dates to the 1960s heyday of Abbie Hoffman and the Youth
International Party, known as the Yippies.

Recreational sales of marijuana become legal in California on Jan. 1,
and medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996. But it's
still illegal to transport large quantities of the drug or to take it
out of state.

It's not uncommon for traffickers to think they can now transport pot
risk-free, said Deputy District Attorney Colleen Murray, who is
prosecuting the case.

"People are like, 'It's legal.' So often they're very open with
officers, 'Oh hey, I have 100 pounds,'" she said. "That's not the way
it works."

Defense attorney Tom Ballanco said it's not clear if his two clients
thought they were acting legally.

Friends were raising money for Beal's bail, Ballanco said, concerned
that he is a heart attack survivor and has other illnesses. Beal isn't
a flight risk and looks forward to fighting the charges, Ballanco said.

"The nature of his life, really, is one of activism. He's not the type
of person who's going to flee from this," Ballanco said. "He's
certainly a very colorful figure. I'm happy to be representing him and
his co-defendant."

For law enforcement, these were routine arrests in an area where
traffickers typically tote hundreds if not thousands of pounds of
famed Emerald Triangle pot to East Coast states.

"People can buy it here for maybe $800 or $1,000 a pound," Murray
said. "Once they get back there ... they're going to get maybe $3,000
to $4,000 a pound for it. That's a nice profit."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt