A Nebraska judge this week rejected an effort by one of the original Yippies from the 1960s to get marijuana delivery charges against him dropped because he says he was hauling marijuana across the country to help AIDS and cancer patients on the East Coast.
Dana Beal, 65, is looking at up to five years in the clinker after his arrest near Ashland, Neb., in 2009 in a van carrying 150 pounds of marijuana, reports Paul Hammel at the Omaha World-Herald
Beal, a resident of New York City, said he was hauling the load of weed to a club of buyers from New York and Washington, D.C., who use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Medical marijuana is still illegal in New York, but has been legalized in D.C.; however, all cannabis sold to patients in D.C. is required to be grown within the District by licensed cultivators.
Beal and other proponents say New York City has a more lenient attitude toward enforcing the marijuana law, but ironically, the Big Apple also has the reputation of the pot bust capital of the world.
Last week, Beal’s attorney argued that he should be allowed to submit evidence about the medical benefits of marijuana in presenting a “choice of evils” defense: He said that Beal chose to break the drug laws to avoid a greater evil by letting AIDS and cancer patients and others go without their medicinal cannabis.
Late on Tuesday, Saunders County District Judge Mary Gilbride sustained the state’s request to bar such evidence from the trial. The judge cited an unpublished opinion from the Nebraska Court of Appeals in 2000.
The court ruled, in that case, that another man caught delivering cannabis for a buyer’s club in New York failed to establish that his actions were “the least harmful alternative available.”
Nebraska isn’t one of the 17 states (and the District of Columbia) that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Glenn Shapiro, Beal’s Omaha-based attorney, said he wasn’t shocked by the ruling but plans to introduce evidence about the benefits of medicinal cannabis at the trial, scheduled to begin July 18.
“If you believe most people, he’s not a drug trafficker for profit,” Shapiro said of his client. “He does it for the better good of society.”