LINCOLN — One of the original members of the ‘60s revolutionary group, the Yippies, was found guilty this week of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver after being caught with 155 pounds of baled pot in a van at Ashland, Neb.
Saunders County District Judge Mary Gilbride, in an order dated Tuesday, also rejected, for the second time the use of a “choice of evils” defense by Dana Beal, 65, of New York City, a long-time advocate for using marijuana as medicine, and the official historian of the Yippie Museum.
Beal, at a trial last month, admitted he was a passenger three years ago in a van carrying the marijuana.
But in court and in jail interviews, he has said his crime should be set aside because the cannabis was being delivered to a group of AIDS and cancer sufferers in New York and Michigan who use the pot for pain relief, appetite enhancement and for other medical reasons.
Beal and his attorney, Glenn Shapiro of Omaha, said they want a jury to weigh whether Beal had chosen a lesser evil —and should be found innocent — because he chose to break the law to provide medicine for sick people.
Seventeen states have legalized marijuana for medical uses, but Nebraska and New York are not among them.
Shapiro or Beal could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon, but both have said they plan to appeal the conviction.
Beal will be sentenced on Nov. 19. The marijuana delivery charge is a felony, punishable by five to 50 years in prison. Two others arrested in the van, James Statzer and Christopher Ryan, were sentenced to 36 to 48 months and 24 to 36 months, respectively, in prison.
Saunders County Attorney Scott Tinglehoff said his office would not have a sentencing recommendation for Beal until after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.
But, he said, it was unlikely that he will not recommend some time in prison because Beal, while he was awaiting a trial on the 2009 drug stop in Nebraska, was arrested in Wisconsin for transporting pot across that state.
“He obviously doesn’t care about following the law and acts like he’s above it,” Tinglehoff said. “Because of that, we have a problem with it.”
The Yippies, or Youth International Party, were a radical group that used satire and pranks to mock the status quo. They were best known for leading protests that disrupted the Democratic National Convention in 1968. Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman were among their leaders.
One fellow Yippie, Ed Rosenthal, is among the Beal supporters who have said they will testify at his sentencing hearing.
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