Njweedman runs for Congress
By, - DANIELLE CAMILLI
MOUNT HOLLY - Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion, the longtime marijuana activist who until recently was living in self-styled political exile in California, is running for Congress again.
Forchion filed his petition Friday to run as an independent for New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District seat, which covers parts of Burlington, Camden and Ocean counties and is held by Democrat John Adler of Cherry Hill.
Although Forchion has lived in California since 2008, he said he has always maintained a legal residence in Pemberton Township. He runs the Liberty Bell Temple on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, a state-registered medical marijuana clinic where he legally sells pot and claims to run the only Rastafarian ministry in the city. Marijuana is used as a sacrament in his religious practice.
NJWeedman's return to the Garden State last month to visit his children ended with him behind bars. He was charged with possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, drug possession with the intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia after police stopped him on Route 38 in Mount Holly for rolling through a red light and found about a pound of pot in the trunk of his rental car.
Forchion said he was racially profiled, a claim the New Jersey State Police deny.
After a few days in Burlington County Jail, Forchion made bail and had a renewed spirit to fight the system.
He fought for years in New Jersey to legalize the use of marijuana for medical and spiritual purposes.
The founder of the Legalize Marijuana Party of New Jersey has run previous unsuccessful campaigns for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, the state Legislature, and the Burlington County Board of Freeholders.
He also lost his bid in New Jersey Superior Court to have his name officially changed to NJWeedman six years ago.
He currently has a petition filed in Los Angeles Superior Court to have his name legally changed to NJWeedman.com, the name of his website.
The congressional race and name change are all part of Forchion's effort to "pollute the jury and support my jury nullification" case as part of his pending criminal matter, he said.
"When my case goes before the jury, I want them to know who I am and be totally aware of me and my views and maybe one will agree with me," Forchion said.
He is also fighting for visitation with his 14-year-old daughter, who he says he has not been allowed contact with because of his views on marijuana.
"It is a national debate and you're supposed to be able to talk about whatever you want," he said. "Politicians can talk about it, but I am punished for it."
Forchion also plans to file a constitutional challenge to New Jersey's new medical marijuana law as part of his criminal case, he said.
In January, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed legislation that would allow patients diagnosed with severe medical conditions, including AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's disease, to access marijuana grown and distributed through state-monitored dispensaries.
Forchion said he would file a constitutional challenge of the law on the grounds that the state's criminal code - the one he was arrested and charged under - reads that marijuana has no medicinal value.
The 3rd District race promises to be closely watched. Former Philadelphia Eagle Jon Runyan of Mount Laurel is facing a primary challenge from "traditional Republican" candidate Justin Murphy of Tabernacle next month.
The Republicans are hoping to take back the seat Adler won in 2008.