NJWeedman is heading back to the Garden State.
Longtime marijuana activist Ed Forchion waived extradition to New Jersey at a hearing Monday in Philadelphia Municipal Court. The waiver means the 48-year-old medical marijuana patient chose to not fight his return to face a probation violation stemming from last year’s conviction on pot possession.
The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department has 30 days to pick him up, but officers could make the transfer as early as the end of this week.
Forchion, who goes by NJWeedman and claims dual residence in Pemberton Township and Los Angeles, has been in the joint since Jan. 31, when county sheriff’s officers tracked him to Philadelphia International Airport and had him arrested on the alleged violation shortly before he boarded a plane to California.
Authorities say Forchion never showed up for probation after his Jan. 16 sentencing in Superior Court at the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly. Defendants sentenced to probation are always told to report immediately to probation after their hearings to register with the department and begin their supervision.
“The guy just had to go over and sign up, and he didn’t,” one law enforcement source said.
After Forchion was a no-show for two weeks, authorities sought a warrant for his arrest and executed it Jan. 30.
Forchion’s troubles stem from his 2010 arrest in Mount Holly when police found a pound of marijuana in the trunk of his rental car and charged him with possession and distribution.
He fought the charges, claiming he was not a drug dealer but a licensed medical marijuana patient in California who brought his “medicine” with him to New Jersey while visiting his family for a few weeks. At the time, Forchion ran a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, but it was shut down following a federal Drug Enforcement Administration raid after his New Jersey arrest.
A Burlington County jury found him guilty of possession in May. A more serious distribution charge from the same incident ended in a hung jury at that trial. At a second trial, a new jury acquitted him of that charge in October.
On Jan. 16, Judge Charles Delehey rejected the state’s request for a 12-month prison sentence for Forchion. Instead, Delehey ordered the activist, whom he called a “dyed-in-the-wool recidivist,” to serve two years of probation and pay a $2,500 fine.
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 his use of medical marijuana as a defense in a criminal trial. New Jersey's medical marijuana law, which was not in effect when Forchion was arrested, would not have allowed him to legally possess the drug since it does not recognize the rights of licensed medical marijuana patients from other states.
Forchion has spent 12 days behind bars and counting. If convicted of the probation violation, he could face up to 18 months in a New Jersey state prison.
Forchion, on his Facebook page minutes before his arrest, said he was planning to return from his trip to Los Angeles to file a motion for reconsideration of his sentence.
He had said in court last month that he intended to appeal his conviction.
During his sentencing, Forchion asked the judge to stay, or postpone, his probationary sentence until his appeal was decided. Delehey denied the request, but said Forchion's probation could be transferred to California if officials there would accept him into their program.
Before Forchion was sentenced to probation last month, he said he didn't think he would be successful under the supervision of the state. He said he had no plans to stop using pot or being tested for use of the drug.
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