A Legal Pot Pioneer Was Busted in Idaho With 56 Pounds. He Has a Plan.

In retrospect, the Idaho shortcut might have been a bad idea.

The mission had already begun to go sideways when Dana Beal — a pioneer of New York’s marijuana legalization movement but someone who has never obtained a driver’s license — enlisted a ketamine enthusiast to chauffeur him across America.

Or perhaps the fateful moment was when Mr. Beal decided to avoid the cold by staying in the minivan conked out on the shoulder of Interstate 84. That forced the helpful state trooper to come over and get a noseful of the 56 pounds of weed that Mr. Beal was bringing back to New York.

In reality, there were any number of chances for Mr. Beal, 77, to avoid his current situation: facing felony drug trafficking charges carrying a potential 15 years in prison.

Mr. Beal has spent nearly six decades challenging pot laws and is a fixture of New York’s graying counterculture, famous for handing out joints at rallies. He has undertaken many weed-buying odysseys and has wiggled out of scores of arrests. Usually, anyway. Now, despite the broad legalization of cannabis, he has managed to get arrested in one of the strictest states in the country and finds himself in his most serious jam yet.

After his Jan. 15 arrest, he spent nearly two months in jail and a fortune in prepaid phone time to mobilize his network of activists to raise a bond payment on his $250,000 bail, which freed him on March 9. He has rejected an offer to plead guilty and serve a year, and says he will “roll the dice” at trial.

He now says he will stick around Idaho. He has a plan.

“My legal strategy now hinges on me helping to legalize marijuana in Idaho,” Mr. Beal said.

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