'N.J. Weedman' publishes legal motion to help people arrested for marijuana possession
By on May 01, 2013
Ed Forchion is a veteran when it comes to advocating for marijuana legalization, but n ow the “N.J. Weedman” has turned his attention to the criminal marijuana laws themselves. The Pember ton Township resident has posted online a 12-page legal motion that he said can be used by anyone arrested for possession.
“I’m tired of being a one-man gang,” Forchion said. “I’ve been arguing these arguments for y ears. I’m just putting it out there. I don’t care who does it, but let’s get it done.”
He has already filed the brief in reference to his most recent arrest, on April 15, after Evesham police officers found two joints on his person during a vehicle stop . “It’s just like taking aspirin or Motrin. I’ve got three joints with me right now,” Forchion said in a phone interview. “This could happen to me every day. I just about always have something on me.” Forchion argues that the arrest, and all marijuana arrests since Jan. 18, 2010, should be declar ed null and void.
On that date, former governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act into law, allowing patients with specific illnesses to register with the state and purchase the drug from one of six allowed dispensaries. To date, only the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair has opened. The Compassionate Care Foundation is scheduled to open a facility in Egg Harbor Township in September.
In 1997, former Gov. Christine Whitman signed into law a new set of drug classifications which labeled marijuana as a “schedule 1” drug, meaning it had “no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
Forchion argues that the Legislature contradicted that classification in 2010, essentially admitting the drug could be used for medicinal purposes. “The implementation of the medical marijuana act, in effect, made the criminal status null and void and canceled it out,” Forchion said. “You have a law saying something is blue and something is red, and they punish you for doing it red,” Forchion said.
“You can’t have it both ways, but that’s New Jersey’s law as it stands now,” he said. In other states, the criminal statutes are amended to add a medical marijuana exception, which New Jersey has failed to do, Forchion said. “They could have corrected this little problem, but they did nothing,” Forchion said. Whether Forchion’s legal arguments will sway judges remains to be seen. Certainly he has had many encounters with the judicial system in New Jersey.
A longtime marijuana activist, Forchion has been arrested numerous times over the years — famously smoking joints at the Liberty Bell, in the Statehouse and in front of the Burlington County Courthouse — and served prison sentences.
In 2000, he was convicted of possessing 25 pounds of marijuana with the intent to sell it. He served 16 months in prison before being released into a parole supervision program. He was eventually brought back to jail after filming public service announcements about legalizing marijuana, but was freed when judges found his First Amendment rights had been violated.He also has run for a number of political offices, most recently in the 3rd Congressional District, and has unsuccessfully filed to legally change his name to “NJWEEDMAN.COM” in both New Jersey and California.
Forchion said that 87 people had downloaded the brief since he uploaded it on Monday, with more than 800 people viewing the document.
He said that lawyers are welcome to add to and amend the 12-page brief to “hammer the point home,” though the motion is written “as basic and with as much common sense as I can.” As more people download, amend and file his motion, he hopes a case will eventually get to the Appellate Court in the hopes that the laws will be changed.
“I put it out there for people all over the state. I don’t care if some guy in Hunterdon County wins. My goal is for it to rule in the law,” Forchion said. “If dozens of people file it all around the state, some judge is going to have to go with common sense and they’re going to go against the status quo.”
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