BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | It sounds like something out of a James Bond novel — though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually thinking this up.
Dana Beal, 77, one of the “godfathers of pot legalization,” was recently in, of all places, war-torn Ukraine, where he is working with a military psychologist to explore ibogaine use to treat soldiers’ traumatic brain injury and battlefield burnout.
A leader of the second-wave Yippies (Youth International Party), Beal has long advocated using ibogaine, which is derived from an African root, to cure addiction for everything from heroin to nicotine. He was known to allow “dosing” of people with ibogaine at 9 Bleecker St., the Yippies’ former headquarters. The Noho building is now home to Overthrow boxing gym, which is named after the Yippies’ newspapers that they left behind.
Returning to the U.S., Beal apparently hit the road again right away, this time to truck weed cross-country back to New York City, as he has done many times in the past. And, as has happened before, he got busted.
“Right now, all I know is that the vehicle died in Gooding, Idaho, and he was arrested,” said Aron Kay, the notorious “Yippie Pie Man.” “It’s still federally illegal to take it across state lines.”
According to celebstoner, a sheriff said that Beal was caught with “quite a lot” of cannabis. He had 186 pounds in tow when he was arrested in Wisconsin in 2011; he did several years in jail for that one, during which he suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Beal was also arrested in Humboldt County, California for hauling pot, but that time they let him off the hook.
Idaho, though, is definitely not a tolerant state on marijuana. Possession there of more than 25 pounds with intent to distribute brings a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a $50,000 fine. Beal’s bail was set at a steep $250,000.
“Idaho is Klan country,” Kay noted, ominously.
Former East Village activist John Penley, a longtime ally of Beal’s in fighting for legal weed, noted the Yippie leader doesn’t drive, so someone else must have been arrested, too.
“Dana’s been doing this for years,” Penley said. “He’ll go somewhere where he can buy cheap pot. It’s generally not too good pot, but people buy it because it’s cheap. He’s been busted for it five or six times.
“I don’t know about the Ukraine ibogaine,” he said of the dueling storyline, though adding, “It’s incredibly fascinating.
“It’s just too bad,” he said. “I feel bad for Dana because, at his age and the serious charges he faces, I don’t know if he’ll get out alive. He went through Idaho, which is one of the strictest states on marijuana.”
Ken Toglia, another activist friend of Beal, said his understanding was that Beal was arraigned at 1 p.m. Wednesday and is being held in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“He had just returned from bringing ibogaine to Ukraine,” he said. “The C.I.A. has known it’s a super-soldier drug since the 1950s. A low dose is a stimulant. A large dose immobilizes you and makes you confront your id.”
Radio journalist Paul DeRienzo said he spoke with Beal about a month ago. He said Beal had gone to Ghana to buy ibogaine, intending to take it to Cancun, Mexico, to sell it to a treatment clinic there. According to DeRienzo, on his return trip, Beal flew from Ghana to Madrid, but Mexican authorities would not allow him onto the connecting flight to Cancun, based on his prior drug convictions and feeling that he was trafficking a drug.
“He wanted to go from Madrid to Mexico but they wouldn’t let him go,” he said. “So he got on a plane to Romania, which was as close as he could fly to Ukraine, and then took a train to Ukraine.
“Dana has said, ‘I’ll go to the ends of the Earth to bring the cure.'”