NJWeedman Arrested in New Jersey on April Fool’s Day, Will Use Jury Nullification in His Defense

NEW JERSEY –On April 1, 2010, Ed Forchion aka NJWeedman made headlines. He was busted in New Jersey with a pound of cannibus in the trunk of his car. April Fool’s Day was playing itself out in full glory. The man, notorious for his run-ins with the New Jersey law, now a transplant living in California and dispensing medical marijuana legally on a daily basis, returns home to get….arrested! And so the saga continues for NJWeedman, America’s most prominent Black activist for the legalization of marijuana.

Ironically, as the owner of his own medical marijuana dispensary in Hollywood, CA now, his arrest was a coup of sorts for the New Jersey police. Indeed, it was an April Fool’s Day tale the media could not resist. Yet while Ed Forchion’s arrest in Mount Holly, NJ made front page news, his trial will be likely be heralded as marijuana’s own Roe vs. Wade case. Forchion plans to represent himself and utilize the open advocation of jury nullification as a defense to his charges. Since the New Jersey constitution (article 1, paragraph 6) allows a jury to judge an actual law as well as the facts in a case, Forchion wants the jury to recognize that the New Jersey marijuana laws are unjust and thereby acquit him.

As the founder of the Legalize Marijuana Party of New Jersey, Forchion is no newcomer to the politics game. He ran campaigns for Governor, Congress, the State Legislature, and the Burlington County Board of Freeholders. As detailed in his recently released tome, “Public Enemy # 420” (https://www.createspace.com/3425534) Forchion has a history that spans decades in his quest for his right to smoke marijuana legally. With this recent arrest, the cannabis activist will add a new chapter to his life story as he represents himself in the case and brings to the forefront once again, the rarely discussed issue of “jury nullification.”

This will be Forchion’s second bid to bring the issue of jury nullification to the forefront of the judicial system. A practicing Rastafarian, he faced up to 30 years in prison back in 1997 when he was arrested and charged with conspiracy and possession of over 40 pounds of marijuana. He acted as his own defense counsel then, with a defense of religion, medical and open advocation of jury nullification. The issue of jury nullification so rattled the courts back then that he was offered a plea bargain, which he took, avoiding a possible lengthy jail sentence. To this date, he regrets that decision. Calling the prosecution’s plea offer a bribe, he admits he was lured out of his right to a trial. He envisions this case as another opportunity to bring jury nullification back to the forefront.

Weedman plans to utilize jury nullification to fight to not only have his charges dropped, but he also plans to file a lawsuit against the state to overturn the medical marijuana law. Forchion believes the New Jersey law is unconstitutional for allowing terminally ill people to possess marijuana while state criminal law prohibits anyone else from possessing pot.

“The state should not be able to have two legal descriptions of the same substance,” Forchion states. “How can the state be allowed to have it both ways arresting some people on criminal laws that state marijuana has no medical value while also allowing others to use marijuana for medical use? Isn’t that a violation of the 14th amendment right to equal protection of the law,” cites Forchion.

Forchion’s defense raises heckles in the legal establishment, but it’s based on a time honored doctrine. “Jury nullification of law,” as it is sometimes called, is a traditional American right defended by the Founding Fathers. Those Patriots intended the jury to serve as one of the tests a law must pass before it assumes enough popular authority to be enforced. Thus the Constitution provides five separate tribunals with veto power – representatives, senate, executive, judges and JURY – that each enactment of law must pass before it gains the authority to punish those who choose to violate it.

“There is a reefer revolution going on in this country and it can’t be denied. Fourteen states now recognize the medicinal value of this sacred herb on some level. By purporting the issue of jury nullification, I’m just looking for at least one juror to examine the New Jersey marijuana laws and recognize the contradictions in it. Not guilty is the verdict I’m hoping for,” cites Forchion. “I’m openly going to challenge my jury to render a verdict in spite of the law. The law is wrong, based on lies and false facts. I wish to tell my jurors the truth about marijuana. I want to tell the jury that this law I’m charged with violating is wrong not I.”

NJWeedman is a cult figure in the marijuana legalization community. He achieved local media notoriety when he was arrested for smoking marijuana in front of the entire New Jersey State Assembly in 2000, then garnered a national platform when he fired it up at Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA during the Republican National Convention.

Upon relocating to Los Angeles a few years ago, in what he calls a self-imposed political exile, he opened his own legal medical marijuana dispensary, the Liberty Bell Temple. The dispensary is located at 5642 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA and represents the basic concepts of democracy and faith.

Forchion is continually fueling his advocacy for the medical marijuana movement. Up until this arrest, he has claimed he was no longer a weed activist and instead insisted he was a weed capitalist. His Hollywood ‘pot parties’ are now legendary and he recently stirred controversy with his “Obama One Year in Office” party celebration. Now ironically, he is compelled to return to his activism roots and embrace his popular moniker, “NJWeedman Super-hero to the Potheads.”

His NJ Weedman video series, filmed from the shop and seen on his website at http://www.libertybelltemple.com/Home.htm and at YouTube.com, commands a following of viewers from around the world. He regularly updates his footage with vivid coverage of the happenings in his shop, including specials on the vast varietals of medicinal marijuana he is now able to serve up legally, daily to his patients.

NJWeedman discusses his April 1 arrest in full video detail at http://vimeo.com/11030959. To explore the issues more, go to http://www.NJWeedman.com and to purchase his book, “Public Enemy 420” go to https://www.createspace.com/3425534. iend

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Published in: on May 6, 2010 at 3:40 PM  Leave a Comment  

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