NJWeedman will have to stay in the Burlington County Jail until his probation violation hearing next month. Superior Court Judge Terrence Cook denied bail for Ed Forchion on Tuesday when the longtime marijuana activist appeared in court after being extradited from Philadelphia to Burlington County on charges he failed to report for probation after being convicted of pot possession.
Meanwhile, the 48-year-old medical marijuana patient says the tumors in his leg are “killing” him and that his alleged probation violation was a “miscommunication.”
“I didn’t realize I had to report,” Forchion said in court Tuesday via a closed-circuit television transmission from the county jail in Mount Holly. “I thought there was another legal matter pending before that.”
Forchion had asked the court to stay or postpone his probation until an appeal in his marijuana case was decided, but Judge Charles Delehey, who presided over his trial, denied that motion.
Defendants sentenced to probation are told to report immediately to probation after their hearings to register with the department and begin their supervision.
Forchion, who was sentenced to two years’ probation despite prosecutors’ argument for a 1-year prison stint, must stay in jail at least until his hearing scheduled for March 12.
If convicted, he could face up to 18 months in state prison.
“If it’s a mistake then you’ll have to take it up with Judge Delehey,” Cook said in court Tuesday.
Forchion, who claims dual residency in Pemberton Township and Los Angeles, has been behind bars since Jan. 31 when authorities arrested him at Philadelphia International Airport right before he boarded a California-bound flight.
He said Tuesday that he was on his way to see his doctor in the Golden State to be treated for painful cancerous bone tumors in his legs.
“I was not on the run,” Forchion said. “I was not intending to ignore anything. I am a cancer patient. I was traveling to California to see my doctor. The tumors are definitely killing me.”
Cook told Forchion he would have to seek treatment in the jail for now.
“Let the jail know that you have a medical condition and they will treat you to the extent that they can,” he said.
Authorities say Forchion never showed up for probation after he was sentenced Jan. 16. They issued a warrant for his arrest two days later.
Forchion said in court that he spoke to authorities over the phone during the 2-week period before his arrest and explained where he was and what he was doing.
His conviction stemmed from a 2010 case, where police in Mount Holly found a pound of marijuana in the trunk of his rental car.
After being slapped with a distribution charge, Forchion denied he was a drug dealer, but a licensed medical marijuana patient in California who brought his medicine with him while visiting family in New Jersey.
At the time, he also ran a licensed dispensary in Los Angeles, which was shut down in a federal raid after his arrest.
When the case went to trial, it first ended with a hung jury, and then a new panel acquitted him of distribution but convicted him of possession.
The case sparked debate over New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, with Forchion believed to be the first defendant in the state allowed to present medicinal use as a defense in a criminal trial. The law was not in effect when Forchion was arrested, and would not have allowed him to legally possess marijuana since it does not recognize the rights of licensed patients from other states.
After Forchion’s violation of probation arrest at the airport, he was held in a Philadelphia jail for nearly three weeks before authorities from Burlington County came to transfer him to New Jersey.
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