Longtime activist Dana Beal has suffered a heart attack while in a Wisconsin jail awaiting transfer to a state prison to begin serving a two-and-a-half year term for marijuana trafficking. Beal was stricken on the morning of Sept. 27, and at last report was hospitalized in stable condition at the intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison.
Last week, Beal was sentenced to prison in Wisconsin after pleading guilty to trafficking 180 pounds in a bust that ensued after his 1997 Chevy van got pulled over for expired tags and no tail light. He also got 2 ½ years probation, to be served after his prison term. He got credit for 267 days already served.
Beal's prison term came despite courtroom testimonials from his supporters, including "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal and Wisconsin medical marijuana patient Jacki Rickert. But it was less than the four years the prosecution asked for and well below the 15-year maximum allowable under Wisconsin law.
Beal was already on probation after being busted with another 100-pound-plus load in Nebraska in 2009. The previous year, the New York City-based activist saw more than $100,000 in cash seized in Illinois, although he avoided any convictions in that case. He also has previous drug convictions from 1971, 1987, 1993 and 2006.
Beal has a long and controversial a career as an activist, first with the Yippies in the early 1970s, then as a founding organizer of the Global Marijuana March, and in recent years, as a crusader for the purported addiction-treating powers of ibogaine with his group Cures Not Wars. (Drug War Chronicle, Sept. 28)
Photo: Beal leading Global Marijuana March in NYC, 1994 (Wikimedia.org)