In the '60s, He Raved About Pot. This Week He Was Busted for It

Cops say 70-year-old activist Irvin Dana Beal was toting 22 pounds of it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2017 1:58 PM CST
In this photo from Sunday, a marijuana plant is seen at the Harvest Cup trade show, in Worcester, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Newser) – A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates to the '60s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22 pounds of illegal pot, prosecutors say. Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit, per the AP. The arrest occurred along a highway in the Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was found. Beal has been promoting pot's medical benefits dating to the '60s heyday of Abbie Hoffman and the "Yippies." Recreational sales of pot become legal in California on Jan. 1, and medical marijuana has been legal there since 1996. But it's still illegal to transport large quantities of it or to take it out of state.

It's not uncommon for traffickers to think they can now transport pot risk-free, says Deputy DA Colleen Murray, "so often they're very open with officers, 'Oh hey, I have 100 pounds.' That's not the way it works." For law enforcement, the arrest of Beal and companion James Statzer, 51, were routine ones in an area where traffickers typically tote hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of pot to East Coast states. "People can buy it here for maybe $800 or $1,000 a pound," Murray says. "Once they get back there ... they're going to get maybe $3,000 to $4,000 a pound for it. Beal's attorney, who says his client is "colorful," adds that friends are raising money for his bail, concerned that he's a heart attack survivor and has other illnesses. Both men pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing drugs for sale and felony transportation charges and were being held on $75,000 bail.


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