'Pot advocate to keep running for office'

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'Pot advocate to keep running for office'

http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2010312210025

12/20/2010

MOUNT HOLLY - New Jerseyans clamoring for legal medical marijuana needn't fear: Weedman is here.

Edward "Weedman" Forchion, a perennial political candidate in Burlington County, says he will keep running for office until lawmakers get the message that sticky ickies should be decriminalized.

Delehey ordered Forchion to submit his brief challenging the constitutionality of the state's criminal code, which makes pot possession illegal, in part, because it has no medicinal value, while New Jersey is working to roll out a medical marijuana program for the treatment of certain conditions.

"The law is wrong and I am right," Forchion said by phone from Oakland, Calif.

A Burlington County grand jury indicted Forchion in August on a third degree charge of possession with the intent to distribute and a fourth degree charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. In October he pleaded not guilty.

"The state of New Jersey has made a mistake in classifying marijuana as just a criminal substance."

Forchion said he will file the constitutional challenge to New Jersey's medical marijuana law, which he and other activists find too restrictive to help many patients, as part of his defense.

Forchion says he uses marijuana for medicinal and religious purposes. Pot is frequently used for healing and ritualistic purposes in Rastafarianism, a religion he practices.

Forchion again rejected the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office's plea deal to resolve the criminal matter. The original offer was six years, including three without parole; the new offer was reduced to an 18 month prison term in exchange for a guilty plea to the possession charge.

Forchion maintains residency in New Jersey, where his five children live, and operates two businesses in California: the Liberty Bell Temple, a state-registered medical marijuana clinic, and a catering service specializing in ganja. Forchion currently is fighting an arrest last April in which Mount Holly police allegedly found a pound of weed in his car during a routine traffic stop. He also is suing the state of California for recognition of weed as a religious substance.

"I'm a bicoastal fighter now," Forchion said.

The state Democratic committee got Forchion kicked off the 3rd congressional district ballot last spring by challenging his signatures. The Legalize Marijuana Party candidate admitted he wasn't very focused on his campaign.

"It wasn't high on my list of priorities," he said.

Forchion vowed to run for office again next year in order to keep his name in the news. He said the current dispute in the State House over a restrictive medical marijuana bill was a sign that views about pot have relaxed.

"Everyone is talking about marijuana now, which is cool. Now I don't seem like a nutbag anymore."






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