INQUIRER: Ed Forchion doesn’t deny it. There was a pound of marijuana – “high-grade California Kush” – in the trunk of his rent-a-wreck when he was stopped in Mount Holly on Thursday night by a state trooper. The dreadlocked Rastafarian, better known as “NJ Weedman,” who ran unsuccessfully for New Jersey governor and U.S. and state representative on the Marijuana Party ticket, was released from the Burlington County jail on Tuesday after posting $50,000 bail on drug possession and distribution charges. He did not intend to be arrested, said Forchion, 45. “But now that I’ve been charged, it feels like destiny. That’s exactly what I wanted to do.” MORE
PHILADLEPHIA WEEKLY: Ed Forchion is no saint. If his arrest record were of the musical variety, it would be a double album or a boxed set. And yet in these warped through-the-looking-glass times we live in, where official truth more often than not turns out to be a lie, Ed Forchion, 38, is something of a role model. Forced by circumstance and his own lapse of judgement, this formerly apolitical Rastafarian trucker has become a radicalized constitutional warrior. He has dared to ask out loud, in a court of law no less, the question the estimated 80 million Americans who have tried marijuana have asked themselves in private: Why is it illegal?
With neither the money nor the justice it can buy, he has fought the law–in this case, the law that makes it a crime to pluck the leaves off a certain fragrant weed growing in the earth and smoke them for pleasure or medicinal use–and the law has called it a draw. Forchion did not pick this fight–he’s sort of the stoner analogue of the drunken underclassmen at a frat party who trips and spills his beer down the blouse of the homecoming queen and gets taken outside by the jocks for a good beat-down–but he did not run from it. And before it was over, he had lost pretty much everything he ever had except his phonebook-thick stack of court transcripts, which he pores over like a biblical scholar hunched over the Dead Sea Scrolls.
His name probably doesn’t ring a bell, but you may know him by his nickname: New Jersey Weedman. Or maybe by his antics: smoking a joint at the Liberty Bell, or on the floor of the New Jersey State Assembly or in the offices of Congressman Rob Andrews (D-N.J.). Or his quixotic bids for a congressional seat representing the Legalize Marijuana Party, a party of one–him. Or his well-publicized efforts to legally make his name and his web site (www.NJweedman.com) one and the same–a desperate prison-house bid to bring attention to the collateral damage of the War on Drugs. While most people probably mistook these acts of civil disobedience for giggle-worthy outtakes from a Cheech and Chong movie when they showed up on the evening news, they were in fact all part of kamikaze legal defense strategy that was, by all conventional standards of jurisprudence, crazy–but in the end proved to be crazy like a fox. MORE