By Anthony Papa
Talk about dying to get your freedom. Dana Beal, a well-known drug war activist, literally did just that on his way to the slammer. Beal — one of the founders of the Yippee movement and chief organizer of the Global Marijuana March was busted in Wisconsin for possessing 169 pounds of medical marijuana. Earlier this year he was sentenced to five years, half to be served in prison and half on probation.
He had served 9 months, but soon after being sentenced and on his way to prison, a strange thing happened to him; he had a heart attack and claims he died. Miraculously he was revived and treated and then the authorities calculated the consequences of keeping Dana in prison. He needed heart surgery and they decided it was too costly and voided the remainder of his prison sentence.
Beal then made bail and received a bypass and is in recovery. But despite his luck in cheating the grim reaper, the danger is not over for him. He is facing hard time on another marijuana charge that is pending from Nebraska when he target got busted in 2009 with an additional 150 pounds of medical marijuana.
Dana in his own words describes what happened: “I don’t remember a thing from the morning of the attack. I don’t even remember where my memories leave off the day before. Either 5 or 6 days after passing out I woke up in intensive care and my daughter was sitting there, along with a deputy from Iowa County. They wanted to get me out on bail before the bypass, so they wouldn’t be billed. Almost a week went by and then the deputy disappeared. Bail had been instated – they were always holding the $5000, they just agreed to void my prison sentence so that I wouldn’t be a flight risk. I had great support from NORML in Madison and really appreciated their help”.
Dana is a staunch advocate for making medical marijuana available for needy patients at an affordable cost. He is willing to put his life on the line to help those in need.
As for his recent bust, he says in a recent Village Voice interview “it wasn’t really such a huge amount when you break it up between 20,000 registered patients in Michigan, plus patients back in New York and D.C. Patients are paying $10, $15 and $20 a gram, and many can’t afford it because they’re on SSI, or they already pay thousands of dollars for meds each month. Our pot RETAILS for $4, $5 and $6 –a quality generic product for poor people. Do the math. The pot busted would have saved patients $5-800,000. There’s never enough good, cheap, medical-grade cannabis.”
Dana looks at his arrest as a blessing in disguise because he had his heart attack in custody and received proper medical attention. He says that he now has been preserved like Lazarus for a purpose to help those in need of treatment of medical marijuana. His dream is to meet and talk to TV personality Montel Williams who is a marijuana patient activist. Williams, who has multiple sclerosis and smokes to reduce debilitating pain, recently visited Israel and thinks that America can learn from Israel’s liberal attitude in regards to medical marijuana.
Hopefully, Dana will fully recuperate and also retain his freedom and help those marijuana patients he put his life on the line for.