TRENTON >> NJ Weedman’s Joint has taken its biggest hit yet — closure.
A letter authored by city Clerk Richard Kachmar on Monday informed Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion that his business license was revoked because of various violations of staying open past 11 p.m. Forchion operates his restaurant and weed temple across from City Hall.
Police struck the fatal blow shortly after 8:30 p.m. Thursday, when they arrived to escort Forchion’s employees out, threatening to arrest them if they didn’t comply.
Forchion said he never received a letter from the city informing him of his license status until the cops showed up.
“They just really f----d up,” he said. “The city was once again cowards doing this. They did it secretively. They did it without any due process. The statute they use to justify their harassment does not apply to me. When I tried to tell that to Capt. [Eldemiro] Gonzalez, he tried to act like I was being a smart ass n----. He said I was trying to fleece the system, trying to pull a fast one. He’s a dumb meathead.”
A woman at the city clerk’s office told Forchion on Friday the letter had been sent certified mail to a home listed for the weed advocate on Morris Drive in Sicklerville.
Weedman doesn’t live there anymore.
She provided the Sept. 19 letter from the city clerk, spelling out Forchion’s “greatest nightmare.” It said because of “various violation [sic] of Chapter 146-22” the city revoked the marijuana advocate’s business license.
Copies of the letter were also sent to the City Council, law director Marc McKithen and police and license inspector.
The clerk made the ultimate decision to close up Forchion’s business. Kachmar was not available for comment on Friday because he was off.
Mayor Eric Jackson said that Kachmar had decided against renewing the license.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk specifically to the clerk yet about it,” the mayor acknowledged. “When the clerk makes in his judgement to rescind any business license, I will honor that and respect the clerk’s ability under the law to do that. When it becomes an issue brought to my desk — this one hasn’t been at this point — I would normally have a conversation with the clerk.”
Jackson said Forchion is allowed to have a legal business in the city.
“He has the opportunity, the right to have a business in the city,” the mayor said. “As long as he conforms to the laws that the city establishes for conduct of a business. As long as he does that, I’m OK.”
Despite the numerous police visits to Weedman’s establishment, the mayor would not call the business a nuisance.
“We’ve addressed a number of complaints for after-hour violations, etc,” Jackson said. “And I’m hoping that he’s working on adjusting them to conform with the law.”
But Forchion contends that his after-hour citations are invalid.
A color-coded city map obtained by The Trentonian shows The NJ Weedman’s Joint is situated in a business zone.
The 146-22 statute city police has used to justify issuing Forchion more than 20 tickets for staying open past 11 p.m. appears to support the Weedman’s contention that the curfew applies to businesses in residential areas.
The city ordinance says, “No establishment on a premises whose building or grounds are closer than 100 feet to the closest point of the building or grounds of a residential property situated within any residential zone of the city shall not be open for business or conduct business or invite or permit access by the general public for any purpose between the hours of 11 p.m. of any day and 6 a.m. of the following day.”
Forchion spent the day darting between the civil courthouse and City Hall, trying to settle a new crop of legal issues. He recently got an eviction notice and spent the morning dealing with that.
People came up to Forchion inside the courthouse and at City Hall, introduced themselves and said they were down with his cause.
Mayoral aide Andrew Bobbitt joked that Forchion should take him to the Bahamas when he wins his lawsuit against the city for violating his religious rights.
Forchion tried to meet with various city officials to clarify the ordinance about the city’s 11 p.m. curfew, which police have used to shut him down.
“This building, where we’re at, is a business zone, right?” Forchion asked zoning officer Ray Bucchi.
“Correct,” Bucchi said.
Weedman pointed to his joint across the street and asked if it was still part of the business zone. Bucchi agreed but said he didn’t know why police have continued giving Forchion tickets for staying open late.
“You have the correct map,” Bucchi said.
The Trentonian went in-person to try to meet with city law director Marc McKithen to get clarification on the ordinance but he refused to speak with a reporter.
Back at the restaurant later in the day, Forchion and one of his most loyal employees, Chef John, sparked up a joint.
Previously lauded by politicians and potheads, a place that had once attracted such heavy lunchtime crowds had become a ghost town.
Forchion and his supporters soaked more than $80,000 into starting the business, just to have the welcome mat roughly yanked from underneath their feet.
The closed sign hung from the door, as people walked by and peered through the window, which framed the sullen Forchion’s face as he sat at a table with his trusty sidekick.
The NJ Weedman’s Joint no longer appeared viable and vibrant as Forchion and Chef John burned one out.
“Everyone’s mad at me,” Forchion says. “Everyone can be mad at me. I’m fighting the system.”
Chef John was pissed as well after he felt Forchion bailed on his employees Thursday night, when the police – once again – came to his cannabis-inspired establishment.
When the police came knocking this time, the normally outspoken and brash Forchion locked himself in his office because he didn’t want to deal with them following several previous heated encounters.
After coming to his joint numerous times over the last the last eight months, including during a full-out tactical raid in April, the workers have come to expect – and accept – police harassment, Forchion said. Forchion faces 11 drug-related charges from the raid.
Last week, some Mercer County sheriffs and Trenton Police officers showed up at the restaurant and cut the locks off the building’s chain-linked gates and kicked everyone out. Forchion was at the Boston Freedom Rally when he heard police had been back at his spot.
He called the police intrusion a “mini raid,” but no one was arrested and no drugs were seized.
The idea of being forced to permanently close was too much.
He was told later they “gloated” to his employees about his business license being revoked but he didn’t know about it until Friday morning, when he went to the civil courthouse to pay two months’ worth of owed rent.
According to court papers obtained by The Trentonian, Forchion was served with an eviction notice by landlord City Hall Properties ordering him to appear Friday.
Forchion scrounged up $7,500 of the $8,157 owed to his landlord in order to keep his spot for another month.
Like a certain demonized San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Forchion said some people in Trenton talk about supporting local businesses but only want the “white-owned corporations” to succeed.
“Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-Eleven, they’re allowed to be open, but with the little-brother-man business like mine, ‘the man’ wants to put his foot on my neck,” he said. “And that’s why I support Colin Kaepernick.”