Marijuana Leaf

What happens when you are a pre-eminent marijuana advocate and get caught with 22 pounds of marijuana after nine previous drug convictions? Irvin Dana Beal is going to figure out that question shortly after an arrest in California's Emerald Triangle, and likely just made every rental company's Do Not Rent list on reputation alone! Most Felony Fridays involve some form of drug-related high, and Beal was out for a leisurely drive in a rental car. In fact, he was pulled over for being a little too leisurely weaving across the road and driving 20 miles per hour under the speed limit along with a Mr. Statzer of Michigan. Obeying traffic laws is a critical part of successfully pulling off a crime, and if something (perhaps from those 22 pounds) is precluding one from driving in a straight line and near the speed limit, driving should clearly be out of the question!

California is one of many states where marijuana laws are "complicated", to be polite:

  • Trafficking pot is still against federal law.
  • Trafficking "unregulated" pot is still (and will remain) against California law.
  • Medical marijuana is legal under California law.
  • Personal recreational use is legal under California law.

According to the Deputy District Attorney in Trinity County 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."

Clearly. The traffic stop resulted in the arrest of Beal and Statzer, confiscation of their 22 pounds of drugs, and likely impoundment of their rental car. A writer for the Associated Press provided a great line after the arrests, as an individual (Beal) with more than 50 years of advocacy on the cause must be acutely aware of the legal restrictions that caused his advocacy

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

Sure, it's not clear ... so they pleaded "Not Guilty" to possessing drugs for sale and felony transportation charges. Beal had no indication at all to believe that his actions might draw legal scrutiny, aside from his jail term for transporting 186 pounds of pot in Wisconsin (also pulled over for traffic violations) and his jail term for transporting 150 pounds of pot in Nebraska (ditto on the traffic infractions, also arrested with a Mr. Statzer), plus at least seven other drug convictions per the Nebraska sentencing documents. He did his time in Wisconsin first although the arrest in Nebraska came prior; he was on bail for the Nebraska charges when caught in Wisconsin! We think former Dallas Cowboy Nate Newton might provide an important life lesson for Mr. Beal; he decided to pursue a different path after getting caught with 213 and then 175 pounds of pot in different states.

When your life could be a "Cheech and Chong" film.

While we realize the claims are for medicinal purposes, perhaps another tactic should be taken. When the law of the land makes transporting quantities of drugs illegal, then perhaps it may be beneficial to use one's advocacy efforts in ways that won't result with incarceration, such as proposing new regulations or creating a support system for patient moves to states where medical marijuana (or recreational marijuana) is legal; after all, there are now 29 of them (plus D.C. and two territories). Repeated prison terms are the epitome of imprudence after most states in the nation have adopted a legal alternative!

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