The below story appeared in the winter issue of Grow Magazine

My Grow Room

The LAPD gave me back my Grow room.

John Deiker



    Edward Forchion is a prominent figure on the 5000 block of Hollywood Boulevard.  He is the owner of the Liberty Bell Temple, a medical marijuana cooperative at 5642 Hollywood Boulevard, and if you haven’t seen him out front this red, green and yellow shop, you may have spotted him in The Weed mobile, Forchion’s purple, green and black, glistening automotive homage to the plant he loves most. 

    On any official documentation his name would read: Robert Edward Forchion Jr., but to the general public and those who know him well, he is New Jersey Weedman, or NJWeedman.

    September 20th 2009: Edward Forchion, here on to be known as NJWeedman, is approaching the entrance of his apartment building at 1205 Serrano Avenue.  When he arrived at the apartment his landlord, Robert West, would inform NJWeedman that he had cancelled his lease, and that currently a Brian Vagabon was living inside the residence.  This technique, NJWeedman would come to find out, is a classic example of an illegal eviction procedure.  Without any former grievances filed or made heard, and without any prior notification, NJWeedman was told he was off the lease and effectively out of an apartment.


    Upon hearing that such a thing had happened, and fully understanding the nature--excuse the pun-- of this case, I couldn’t help but wonder if this landlord was not trying to take advantage of someone who he assumed would passively roll over, simply because inside the tenants apartment there were…. marijuana plants.


    If he did perceive this to be the case, what a mistake Mr. West, the landlord in question, had made; what a terrible misconception of character he had about his tenant.

NJWeedman is a medical marijuana clinic owner and outspoken advocate of marijuana rights.  If his landlord believed he could take away Forchion’s state-given rights to grow, and assumed that because of the ambivalent nature of marijuana laws in this country, he could do so without a fight—well, Mr. West was terribly mistaken.

 The following morning, on September 21st, NJWeedman went to the downtown superior court office on Hill Street.  From there he was able to check all landlord records for LA county in order to verify, in print, whether his landlord had filed any formal eviction notices without informing him first.  Once he had discovered that there was no previous documentation to be found, he continued on to the Hollywood Police Station and requested that a detective hear his case.  His requests were met and a statement of the events to was given to Detective Vinton. 

 “He was amused,” referring to the detective who heard his case.  “It’s not that often that someone comes and asks the police if they can help them get their weed plants back.  This might’ve been a first,” says NJWeedman.

 At the Hollywood Police station NJWeedman provided a written statement outlining the prior day’s events and disclosing that there were seventy-seven marijuana plants inside the apartment, which he wanted back.  In other states such an act would be incriminating, but in California, because of his statues as an owner and caregiver, NJWeedman felt within the law to make such a request.

 And it turns out, he was.   After Detective Vinton heard the case, he placed a call to the city clerks’ office to verify that NJWeedman, a.k.a. Edward Forchion, was in fact owner of a medical marijuana clinic.  When he received word from the clerks’ office that he did lease a medical marijuana facility operating in Hollywood, Detective Vinton called Weedman’s landlord and told him that Mr. Forchion and a LAPD unit would be coming over to the apartment, and instructed Mr. West to let them on the premises.  NJWeedman then proceeded to go back to his apartment, arriving there roughly ten minutes before LAPD officers assigned to his got to the scene.

    It was in that small window of time—app. ten minutes—that Mr. West, the apartment landlord, also called on the LAPD, and made a trespassing claim against NJ Weedman.  In a bizarre turn of event, within a matter of moments, there was a helicopter and a small battalion of LAPD officers on the apartment lawn, arresting NJWeedman. 

     But he knew vindication was coming, so NJWeedman didn’t put up a struggle.  He was upset-- nobody enjoys being unlawfully placed under arrest-- but he knew his police were en route.  And when the more informed officers did arrive mid-fiasco, they quickly had the cuffs taken off NJ Weedman and focused on the real issue at hand: the illegal eviction taking place.  Officers at the scene informed the landlord, Mr. West, that he had to let NJWeedman into his apartment, and that the current tenant should be removed immediately. 

    This outcome was pleasing only momentarily: when he and assisting officers entered his apartment NJWeedman would discover that the only things which had not been tampered with were the seventy-seven marijuana plants he had been growing for his patients in a bedroom.  Many other things were missing.

    But wait a minute: did I just write—in bold print—that there was a civilian and police officers, inside a room full of marijuana plants, and that there were—no arrests?

            Yes: I did just write that.  That is what happened.

    Medical marijuana cooperative owners have been instructed by the state to, if possible, become self-sustainable, i.e. to provide marijuana for there patients which they, themselves, have grown.  After all, by signing a cooperative membership, a patient is effectively turning the owner into his caregiver, and thus the rights of an owner include his/her ability to grow marijuana for the patient he/she is a caregiver to. 

    In Los Angeles, where many clinics have 1000 plus patients, this has created a bit of confusion: does the law mean that a clinic owner could grow six mature plants for each of his patients, therefore legally growing 6000 plants?

    There is still no concrete answer to that question, and in reality, real estate square footage and pricing markets in Los Angeles county prevent most owners from being able to do any large scale marijuana growing in the city—who could afford a mansion in the hills solely dedicated to the purpose of growing marijuana?

    However, on September 20th, 2009, when NJWeedman and the police were standing side by side next to a bevy of marijuana buds and a stack of prescription scripts, the answer to the question: can you grow legally for your patients? —Seems to be: yes.   That afternoon the LAPD took no action against the Weedman; in fact, they took his side, returning the apartment to him, along with the seventy-seven plants, which, at that point, were desperate for a watering. 

    “The LAPD returned my grown room to me,” says  NJWeedman.

Njweedman is filing a lawsuit against his landlord, suing for continued harassment and the illegal lock out/eviction.  The landlord has now filed for a eviction in Superior Court after the fact.

    According to Njweedman the worst part of it I was trying to comply with state/county incentives to grow our own got me into this with a local landlord. The entire neighborhood now knows I have a grow room and I had to hire someone “security” to chill there all the time.  In my suit I’ll be seeking compensation for the embarrassment of my locked out, being handcuffed in front of my neighbors, the cost of changing the locks, the security I now have to pay and the harassing phone calls I receive from MR West.  As for his filed eviction, he has no grounds my rent is up to date but I will defend myself in court as I’ve done in the past. "I didn't look for this court fight it came to me."

Superior Court of California
County of Los Angeles

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