On Sept 18th, 2000 my trial began, for the 1997 charges. (SEE FIRST ARREST) Please read the "PRESS COVERAGE below. The state has tried to pass this "SHAM" off as a fair Constitutional trial. The fact of the matter is it wasn't! I was denied the right to present witnesses, denied assistance of counsel and denied the right to present my defense or challenge the law itself all mandated by the 6th Amendment! In no-way will this trial ever stand-up to a constitutional test of "fairness".


I have appealed this "MOCKERY and FARCE" of Justice!
"I'M FIGHTIN THE POWER!"  
 
 
 
 

"PRESS COVERAGE"

-OF- 
"NJWEEDMAN'S" POLITICAL TRIAL


 






I WAS JUDGED BY A PERVERT!
CLICK HERE

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Marijuana advocate readies for his trial 
(9/19/2000)

Despite a judge's order, Edward Forchion plans to bring up jury nullification. Jury selection is to begin today

By Aamer Madhani 
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF 

Barred from trying to convince a jury that the government's marijuana laws are unconstitutional, Edward Forchion - an advocate for the legalization of marijuana who is to go on trial this week on a charge of conspiracy to distribute 40 pounds of cannabis - has vowed to press on anyway.

Yesterday, Judge Stephen W. Thompson of Camden County Superior Court reaffirmed another judge's ruling to bar Forchion from introducing the concept of jury nullification to his jury.

John Wynne, assistant prosecutor, successfully argued that, although a jury has the power to nullify a law, the right should not be advertised.

Jury selection is to start today for Forchion, 36, of Browns Mills, in a case that stems from a 1997 arrest in Bellmawr. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in state prison. He has been out on bail since his arrest.

He said yesterday that he would try to use jury nullification despite the judge's order.

"This is a nightmare for me," Forchion said. "I'm hoping I get a jury that understands and sees how ridiculous these laws are."

Police say Forchion and his brother, Russell, arranged for a large shipment of marijuana from Arizona to the Bellmawr Industrial Park. Eric Poole, who signed for the Federal Express delivery, also was arrested. Poole and Russell Forchion pleaded guilty to lesser charges and served short sentences.

According to court documents, Russell Forchion testified that he and his brother had helped arrange the delivery.

Edward Forchion, who used to maintain an apartment in Tucson, Ariz., when he was a cross-country truck driver, said that he had no part in arranging the shipment and that he had never sold drugs.

In the past, he has acknowledged doing some eccentric things to make his point that marijuana laws are unjust. Calling himself "NJweedman," he has fired up marijuana cigarettes in the chambers of the state legislature, in front of the Liberty Bell, and in the offices of U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.).

He also has entered politics and is running for Burlington County freeholder and the First District congressional seat on the issue of changing marijuana laws. Forchion said he equated laws on drugs to statutes that affirmed slavery.

"I know the truth," he said. "It's a stupid law, so I plan on continuing to openly advocate marijuana."

He said he took satisfaction in the fact that a few elected officials have begun talking about the need to decriminalize marijuana, among them independent Gov. Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Republican Gov. Gary Johnson in New Mexico.

On a personal level, Forchion, who is a Rastafarian, said marijuana laws violated his freedom of religion. He said smoking marijuana played an important role in his worship.

Beyond religious grounds, Forchion said, it is wrong to criminalize marijuana when other drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, are legal.

"The difference is tobacco is the product of rich, white men, and so it goes untouched by the government," he said.



 
 

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Marijuana maverick begins defense at trial
(9/20/2000)
 

Edward Forchion, accused in a 40-pound drug deal, said he was like Rosa Parks. He refused a plea offer.
 
 

By Aamer Madhani 
INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF 

With an opening statement in which he compared himself to Rosa Parks and discounted the merits of marijuana laws, Edward Forchion - a self-described eccentric advocate of legalizing cannabis - began his defense yesterday against charges that he conspired to distribute 40 pounds of marijuana.

The first day of Forchion's trial in Camden County Superior Court started with a juror's being excused after a teary episode. She told the judge that she could not be part of a decision in the case, according to Forchion.

Forchion, 36, of Browns Mills, told the jury that he had smoked marijuana in the morning as well as at lunch. After the proceedings, he showed reporters a marijuana cigarette that he had in the front pocket of his jacket.

Forchion, acting as his own counsel with lawyer Jaime Kaigh of Cherry Hill advising, wore a khaki summer suit and T-shirt with a marijuana theme that bore the message, "I love my country; I fear my government." He told the jury that when Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama in 1955, she disobeyed the law because it was the right thing to do - and that he, too, was a pioneer for what was right.

He turned down a last-minute plea offer from John Wynne, a Camden County assistant prosecutor, even though his wife, a cousin and Kaigh urged that he accept it.

Under Wynne's offer, Forchion would have been eligible for parole after 33 months. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in state prison.

In his opening statement, Forchion asked the jury to invoke its power to nullify the law under which he was charged - even though two Superior Court judges had affirmed the prosecution's request that he not be allowed to advertise the concept.

As Forchion was finishing his statement, he said he was surprised that Wynne had not objected to his bringing up the nullification power.

Judge Stephen W. Thompson interjected, "So am I."

Wynne declined to comment.

Forchion is accused of hooking up his younger brother, Russell, with a marijuana supplier in Arizona in October 1997. The supplier was to sell Russell Forchion about 40 pounds of marijuana for $20,000, authorities said.

The shipment was delivered to the Bellmawr Industrial Park via Federal Express. 

Shortly after picking up the marijuana, Russell Forchion was arrested as he drove away from the laboratories, authorities said. His brother, who was driving behind him, was also arrested.

Russell Forchion pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in 1998 and agreed to testify against his brother.

Russell Forchion testified reluctantly yesterday, changing his earlier statements to police and earlier testimony that he had bought his brother a plane ticket to Arizona to broker the deal, and that his brother had arranged the hook-up.

"All I said is that he went to Arizona, and [another man] made the arrangements," Russell Forchion said.

Edward Forchion said that he had flown to Arizona to visit his girlfriend, who was pregnant with his child at the time.

When the package did not arrive on the day it was supposed to, Edward Forchion said, he advised his brother not to pick it up because police had likely caught on to the plan.

Forchion, who has been out on bail since his arrest, is running for Burlington County freeholder and for the First District seat in the U.S. House on the Legalize Marijuana ticket.
 


PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Marijuana maven accepts plea agreement 'for my kids' 
(9/21/2000)

The legalization advocate conceded his role in a drug deal. He got a light term and time to talk with jurors.

By Aamer Madhani 
INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF 

After refusing several plea offers that he said would compromise his principles, a South Jersey advocate for legalizing marijuana agreed yesterday to a lesser charge.

In exchange for a light sentence and one more chance to address the jurors, he admitted to introducing two parties to a $20,000 cannabis deal. Yesterday would have been the second day of his trial. 

"I did it for my kids," Edward Forchion said of the plea agreement as he left Camden County Superior Court yesterday. "But I still believe what I believe."

Forchion, 36, of Browns Mills, is a candidate for the U.S. House and the Burlington County Board of Freeholders on the Legalize Marijuana ticket. 

He was brought to trial on charges of conspiring to distribute more than 25 pounds of cannabis - specifically, 40 pounds of marijuana from an Arizona deal. Had he been convicted, Forchion faced up to 20 years in prison.

Instead, he pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana, both second-degree offenses, and could spend as little as six months in prison.

Once released, he could be tested for drugs at any time, said his legal adviser, Jaime Kaigh. Forchion acted as his own attorney during the proceedings.

Forchion said he had a difficult time accepting the plea and did not make a final decision until arriving at the Camden County Hall of Justice yesterday morning.

A Rastafarian, he said he smoked marijuana for religious reasons, to relieve back pain, and to help him deal with chronic depression. Since the mid-1990s, Forchion, a former cross-country truck driver, has been an outspoken advocate of legalizing marijuana, and he acknowledges that he has done some outlandish things in an attempt to get his point across.

He has been cited for lighting marijuana cigarettes in the legislature's chambers and the office of U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews. He told the jury during his opening statement Tuesday afternoon that he had smoked marijuana before coming to court that morning and had smoked again during the lunch break.

Forchion acknowledged in court yesterday that he had introduced his brother, Russell, to a marijuana supplier in Arizona and had flown to Tucson on behalf of his brother in October 1997 to seal the sale of the marijuana.

The shipment was delivered to the Bellmawr Industrial Park via Federal Express. 

Shortly after picking up the marijuana, Russell Forchion was arrested as he drove away from the laboratories, authorities said. His brother, who was driving behind him, was also arrested.

A third man, Eric Poole, who signed for the package, was convicted of a lesser crime. Russell Forchion, who had agreed to testify for the prosecution, served about five months in prison before being placed on intensive supervisory parole.

Edward Forchion is free on $65,000 bail until his sentencing on Dec. 1.

Before the proceedings began Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor John Wynne offered Forchion a deal in which he would have spent 33 months in jail. On Tuesday night, Wynne called Kaigh and offered Forchion a sentence in which he might have to serve only six months in prison and then be placed on intensive supervisory parole.

Wynne said he thought the sentence was just, considering that Forchion had a lesser role in the conspiracy than his brother. 

Forchion's defense strategy was to persuade the jury to invoke its power of nullification, by which a jury can set aside the law out of sympathy for a defendant. He pursued that strategy even though two Superior Court judges had affirmed the prosecutor's argument that the concept of nullification, although available for a jury's use, should not be advertised.

In his opening statement, Forchion still talked to the jury about the power. To the surprise of him and Judge Stephen W. Thompson, Wynne did not object.

Wynne said yesterday that he had not objected because "it wasn't hurting me. I think he was hurting himself."

Forchion also pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen item, a two-barrel shotgun, in an unrelated Ocean County case, and he pleaded guilty to theft for swiping a $500 bet he lost off a table at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City. Both of those indictments date from 1996, and the sentences will be consolidated with the drug charges.

In a departure from typical court proceedings, Thompson allowed Forchion to address the jury after he entered the guilty plea and ask the 13 citizens if they saw any merit in his argument that the government's marijuana laws were wrong.

"It is highly unusual, but everything about this case has been unusual," Thompson said.

Several jury members told Forchion that they felt for him and understood his cause. One juror even encouraged Forchion to continue fighting for his cause when he is released from prison. But the jurors also said that they did not understand how his belief that marijuana should be legalized related to the charges he was facing.

"There is a right and a wrong way to do things," one juror said.


 



BURLINTON COUNTY TIMES 
Marijuana candidate pleads guilty 
Sept. 22, 2000


By Mike Mathis 
BCT staff writer 
 

CAMDEN - Ed Forchion admits he likely won't be elected a county freeholder or congressman, but he considers himself a winner nonetheless.

His trial in state Superior Court here on charges of conspiring to distribute 40 pounds of marijuana ended Wednesday after Forchion pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Forchion, 36, of Pemberton Township, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He also pleaded guilty to charges in two unrelated cases. In exchange, he received a sentence under which he could spend as little as six months in prison and be subject to supervised parole for up to 27 months.

Had he been convicted of the more serious distribution charges, Forchion could have been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. Forchion will be sentenced on Dec. 1, well after voters decide whether he should serve on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders or represent the 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Forchion is running in both races on the Legalize Marijuana Party ticket.

"I pleaded guilty but I feel like a winner," Forchion said. "(Prosecutors) offered me so much, (but) they wouldn't just drop the charge. They didn't want me to win this case on jury nullification." Forchion's defense strategy was jury nullification, when a jury decides not to enforce a law out of sympathy for the defendant.

Forchion, a former truck driver who has been an outspoken advocate of legalizing marijuana, was charged with helping his brother and another man pick up a shipment of 40 pounds of marijuana at the Bellmawr Industrial Park on Nov. 24, 1997. The marijuana was shipped from Arizona via Federal Express.

Russell Forchion and Eric Poole pleaded guilty to lesser charges and served short jail terms.

"To be consistent and fair, this was a responsible plea," said John Wynne, a Camden County assistant prosecutor. An observer of the Rastafarian faith, Forchion has said he smokes marijuana for religious reasons as well as to help ease back pain.

While Forchion conceded he is not likely to win at the polls this year, he believes voters can cast ballots for him to protest the country's marijuana laws.

Wynne said Forchion is permitted to remain on the ballot. His conviction won't be official until he is sentenced, and that will be after the election.

In addition to the marijuana charges, Forchion also pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen shotgun in Ocean County (i bought it)  and stealing $500 worth of chips from a table at the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. ( I took my bet back) 

The charges, which date to 1996, will be consolidated with the drug charges, Wynne said.

Forchion ran unsuccessfully against incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-1st of Haddon Heights, in 1998 on The Legalize Marijuana Party ticket. He also ran unsuccessfully last year to represent the state's 8th Assembly District and for the Camden County Board of Freeholders.


Trenton Times 
MARIJUANA CANDIDATE - PLEAD'S GUILTY
9/22/2000


By BETH E. FAND, Staff Writer

Third-party candidate Ed Forchion spent part of the campaign season behind bars, and he expects to return there soon. He can't hold elected office, since he'll be sentenced in December for shipping 25 pounds of marijuana to New Jersey. He pleaded guilty to the crime on Wednesday.

But Forchion still hopes residents will support him in November when he seeks a seat on the Burlington County freeholder board and a seat in the U.S. Congress from the 1st District. Forchion, who is running on the Legalize Marijuana Party ticket, says a vote for him will be a vote against anti-marijuana laws. 

"Me running for office is just giving other people the opportunity to participate in my protest," said Forchion, 36, a Rastafarian who says he uses marijuana for religious reasons, to alleviate back pain, to clear his mind and to boost creativity. "I would love to get 5,000 or 10,000 people to vote for me. It would be a symbolic thing."

Forchion, who calls himself "the Weedman," was arrested in Belmar in November 1997 on charges he was involved in arranging for and picking up a shipment of 25 pounds of marijuana that came from Arizona to New Jersey, said John Wynne, a Camden County assistant prosecutor.

Another 15 pounds of the drug was found in Forchion's brother's van as the two drove away from the pickup spot, Wynne said. He said Forchion faced up to 20 years in prison, 10 without parole.

But under the plea bargain Forchion accepted Tuesday, he will serve up to 10 years, with his first chance for parole after two years. If a panel of judges accepts Forchion into an intensive parole program that could include home visits, curfews and daily drug testing, Forchion could spend as little as six months in jail, Wynne said.

Similar deals were given to two other defendants in the case -- Forchion's brother, Russell, and Eric Poole.

By agreeing to the deal, Forchion will also dispose of several other charges against him: that he possessed 15 pounds of marijuana in Collingswood this year, and that he stole money off a gambling table in an Atlantic City casino and bought a gun he knew was stolen in Lakewood, both in 1996, Wynne said.

Those weren't Forchion's only run-ins with the law. The former truck driver has been arrested several times for smoking joints during public protests, once during a session of the state Assembly.

Forchion, who took the plea deal on the second day of his trial, said he couldn't resist the agreement. "I pleaded guilty, but I feel like a winner," said Forchion, who is free on $65,000 bail. "It was so close to total victory that I feel good about it."

In addition to sparing himself serious jail time, Forchion, who acted as his own lawyer, got his chance to address a jury on the subject of marijuana laws.

He asked the jurors to put the laws on trial, finding him innocent if they decided the policies were unethical. His main argument was that the government has wrongly classified marijuana as one of America's most dangerous drugs, claiming it has a high potential for abuse, has no acceptable medical use and is considered unsafe.

Since 1996, he said, eight states have at least partially rejected those beliefs by making marijuana legal when prescribed for medical use.

"The law is a lie, and it is being enforced," said Forchion, who had planned to call witnesses, including a university professor and a state chemist. "I want to present the truth."

Wynne admits that Forchion's defense strategy prompted him to offer a fairly lenient deal.

"He was representing himself, and when that happens, sometimes juries feel sympathy because's he's not a lawyer," Wynne said.

As part of the deal, Forchion was allowed to speak to the jury again before they were dismissed. He says he polled jurors and found that at least five of them were on his side. "I would have got a hung jury," he said.

But Wynne says it's unlikely jurors would have disregarded the facts and found Forchion innocent. He said they seemed concerned that the marijuana could have ended up in the hands of children if Forchion sold it.

Forchion, who is married and has four children, says he will do what he can to keep his time in prison to a minimum, including taking a break from smoking marijuana during his probation. But he isn't promising to give up the drug forever.

"I have always felt like I, and I alone, control my body," he said. "By me signing this plea, I am giving up my right to regulate my own body. When I get that back, I probably will use marijuana again."



 
 
 

Philadelphia Inquirer
LOOK WHO'S STILL ON THE BALLOT !
Saturday - Oct 10th, 2000

Voters in Burlington County and the First Congressional District will have the opportunity to vote for Legalize Marijuana candidate Edward Forchion even though he may be headed to jail.

Forchion pleaded guilty last month to arranging a deal for 40 pounds of cannabis. Two days after his guilty plea he was arrested in Strawberry Mansion after buying three ounces of marijuana. He said the Philadelphia arrest was "a sign from God" that he should not have pleaded guilty, and he asked the Public Defender's Office in Trenton to enter a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Forchion, who acknowledges he does not have a chance of getting elected, wanted to remain on the ballot to draw attention to his issue but feared the guilty plea would prevent him.

But the State Attorney General's Election Division ruled Forchion is eligible to stay on the ballot until he is sentenced. That isn't scheduled until December.

- Aamer Madhani,

in Cherry Hill
 


 

On Oct 11th, 2000 - I filed this motion to resind my Plea. I'm not sure when this motion will be heard. - Hopefully before Dec., 1st -2000


 
 

                               SUPERIOR COURT of NEW JERSEY
                                           CAMDEN , New Jersey
 
 
 

State of New Jersey

          -Vs- 

Forchion -aka- njweedman 

motion: To withdraw bribery induced plea
                                                                                                                                         3596-10-98
 

                                      - REASONS -

(1) I was being denied a fair trial at the time plea was accepted - I denied witnesses, or legal
assistance to adamantly or Zealously assist me in “my defense”. - (exhibit - Legal defense) - 
( motion to be relieved of assistance of counsel - August 31st, Jaime Kaigh)

(2) - I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss this legal matter (plea) with my lawyer 
(Mr. Boswell - Ocean Co. Public defenders Office) - assigned to this matter.

(3) - At the time of the plea - I was suffering from a bout of anxiety, this is related to the
depression problems I’ve made the court aware of repeatedly. In fact I had even told Judge
Thompson I suffered from bouts of anxiety on record (Sept 18th) when Juror number three
suffered a similar courtroom affliction and was relieved of her obligation to serve. As well as on previous occasions. On numerous occasions (see court trial records) I had asked for a
psychological report after Judge Rosenwigz had ordered it. (Nov. 13th, 1998) - In fact had
presented an old report from 1997. - Again Camden County PDO refused to fund it.; it may have also been used to support my contention that marijuana is a medicine. - Not a schedule 1 drug. 

(4) The states offer was an illegal act of bribery - in violation of 18 U.S.C. 210(c) (2) - this bribery was designed to keep me from presenting my legal defense of Jury Nullification, to a jury. Bribery is a illegal act - law enforcement is denied the opportunity to engage in illegal acts to prosecute citizens

(5) The State resurrected the Ocean County case, after the probationary period for the sole
purpose of presenting it as added leverage to force me to accept a plea instead of utilizing my
right to a Jury trial. (June24th-2000) - This was purely political, and unjust. 

(6) The State unjustly charged me with a new offense on Feb 8, just too again present more
pressure to get me to relinquish my right to a Jury trial. - The State of New Jersey has no
juristiction in this matter. - I was looking forward to a fully jury trial in this matter as well. 

 (7) The State of New Jersey - arrested me and detained me for 13 days
(Sept. 1st thru Sept. 13th), deliberately interfering with my opportunity to prepare for my defense. This was a political detention.  Sept 18th, trial date was set on Sept 11th; I had 2 business days upon release to prepare for trial. Again my court appointed “legal assistance” failed to assist me at all. - BTW - the charge I was held on was totally dismissed for lack of evidence. No surprise!

                                             FACTS
On Sept 20th, 2000. I reluctantly and mistakenly, illegally accepted the state’s act of bribery

The state has for almost three years been attempting to bribe me out of my right to a fair jury trial. On numerous occasions the state offered me more of my freedom, in exchange for my guilty testimony. On Sept 20, Th. 2000, the third day of my trial, I suffered an anxiety attack and succumbed to the states undue pressure. - The fact that I had no assistance in preparing my defense or any financial help (from the Public Defenders office in acquiring/presenting witnesses for my defense, greatly increased the pressure, the courts lack of concern when presented these constitutional violations read into the court record on Sept. 18th.  /see attached -court read statement/ played into my anxiety), in obtaining witnesses on my behalf. - Previously before Judge Brown I had complained to the court that the state was attempting to bribe me out of my “right” to a fair Jury trial. 

On Sept 18th, I again brought this to the attention of the court, in Judge Thompson’s chambers when I again refused to accept the proceeds of bribery. 

My legal assistant and the prosecutor conspired to prevent me from presenting my chosen legal defense, OPEN ADVOCATION of JURY NULLIFICATION, and conspired to bribe me into making false statements (plea). By denying me the opportunity to legally defend myself. 
(exhibit A-Public Defenders statement) --(exhibit B-State Prosecution statement) 
 

                                       ARGUMENT:
 Why I’m motioning the court to allow me to withdrawal my Guilty Plea.

 1. -From the day I was arrested, (Nov. 24th, 1997) and learned I was the first defendant charged under a new law signed by Gov. Whitman on August 4, 1997. I have insisted on a Jury Trial where I intended to use a defense of OPEN ADVOCATION of JURY NULLIFICATION.  I swore I would never sign away my right to a Jury trial. 

The lawyers assigned to assist me have refused too. I know I’m not like most defendants - I know about jury nullification - I know that all laws are subject to challenges. This was a new law, subject to challenge. It is ironic that in 1994 Megan Law was passed and the Office of the Public Defender has been the main challenger of it, protecting child molesters but ignoring the injustices, unconstitutionality of this new marijuana law.  The office of the public defender profits off the law. 

  "Jury nullification of law," as it is sometimes called, is a traditional American right defended
by the Founding Fathers. Those Patriots intended the jury to serve as one of the tests a law must pass before it assumes enough popular authority to be enforced. Thus the Constitution provides five separate tribunals with veto power – house of representatives, senate, executive, Judges and JURY– that each enactment of law must pass before it gains the authority to punish those who choose to violate it. Thomas Jefferson said, "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by whom a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 I wanted to tell the truth, about marijuana. Using NJ Constitution Article 1 (6):
Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right. No law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth maybe given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. - In effect the Jury has the right to Judge a law as well as evidence. - I wished to legally present a defense of “ THE LAWS WRONG NOT I.” - the state and members of the local bar -feared such a defense and conspired to prevent me from presenting it

     In 1986 the New Jersey Supreme Court decided in, New Jersey -Vs- Ragland 105 NJ 189, “@208 Defendants position is that the nullification power is one of the essential attributes of his right to a trial by jury, and that it is desirable. Given that premise, the conclusion is inescapable--The Jury should be told” - the right of a Pro Se defendant to utilize Jury Nullification was affirmed.  The right of a Jury to nullify a law that it deems unjust, mis-applied, unconstitutional or just against a juror’s conscience is constitutionally permissible function of a jury. As also affirmed in (1972 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals 473F. 2d 1113) - “ unreviewable and irreversible power... to acquit in disregard of the instruction on the law given by the trial Judge. The pages of history shine upon instances of the jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the Judge: for example, acquittals under the fugitive slave laws” and again upheld  in UNITED STATES -Vs- BURHART 501 f.2d 993 (1974)  -“The Jury stands as the Bulwark against laws which it deems unjust or excessively harsh. The present law of “Jury Nullification”[ the Jury’s power to acquit a defendant out of a refusal to apply the law to the facts clearly evidencing a criminal violation] seems not to require or permit a judge to tell the jury that it has the right to ignore the law as charged but to allow a defense attorney some leeway in persuading the jury to acquit out of conscience of mercy or obedience to a higher law.” -  I my case which I openly wished to utilize these rights as a Defense, the “legal advisor” assigned to assist me refuse too, citing his oath as an officer of the court. - This left me with no legal assistance for “his defense” as guaranteed by the NJ and federal Constitutions, and the court order in my case. 

  I was Pro Se as a way of utilizing Jury Nullification, but being Pro Se in no way excludes my right to counsel for assistance again as per the NJ and federal constitutions. I repeatedly made this clear; I needed a lawyer for assistance. The counsel assigned refused to operate in such a capacity. Without the counsel for assistance this left me feeling powerless and psychologically defeated on the third day of my trial. - At that point the state’s repeated attempts to bribe me out of my right to a Jury trial were successful out of despair and helplessness it was reluctantly
accepted.

 I plead Guilty not because I was guilty but because the system refused to assist me with my defense. I was faced with continuing as a defendant faced with a possible punishment of twenty five years or more in an unfair trial or accepting the state’s bribery offer of a flat ten year sentence with no bar on parole, in exchange for false guilty testimony to all charges. Ultimately, I succumbed to the pressures of the state’s repeated bribery attempts, and in a
moment of high anxiety accepted. 

  Originally I was just fighting the charges stemming from Nov 24, 1997, (then to add leverage to get me to accept a plea and give up my right to a Jury Trial where I was openly advocating the secret right of Jury Nullification.) The state arrested me a charged me with conspiracy on Feb 08, 2000, and again on June 24th 2000 the state resurrected an old charge from 1996 that had been previously been disposed of in Ocean County. If convicted of all three, I could have faced life in prison.  New Jerseys “three strikes law” went into effect in March 1997. These two charges were political, they were malious and only intended to force me to shut up, (stop telling the truth about marijuana) and to accept a state offer. This offer was not really for my benefit but for the states benefit. The state wanted to keep its lucrative MARIJUANA PROHIBITION intact. If I had been successful in presenting my
defense to my jury and they (the Jury)  had decided to rule in my favor the state could have lost the law Gov. Whitman had signed in August 1997. I personally was just hoping for a HUNG Jury, which BTW I believe I would have obtained. 

     The State of New Jersey basis its marijuana laws on outright deliberate lies. The marijuana laws are really political laws, status quo type laws that are taboo to attack if one wants a future.  Everyone testify before a court must swear “to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. - except the state it self. In the case with marijuana laws, the law itself is a lie, and no-one with any hope for a political future stands up to this lie. I wished
to tell the truth about marijuana as my defense. - 
 

According to NJ state law marijuana is a schedule 1 drug. I say that is a lie. Just look up the definition of a schedule 1 drug and compare that to what is known about marijuana and anyone with a fourth grade education can see the state flat-out lies about marijuana and arrests and ruins people based on this lies. THE LAW IS FLAWED.

This is what I wanted to present to the Jury, again the truth as per NJ Constitution article 1 (6)
 

Definition of a schedule 1 drug according to the CSA (Controlled Substance Act) of 1970: 
All state and federal marijuana laws are based on this act including NEW JERSEY - 2c:35 which I charged with violating. 

   The problem with this act is marijuana was deliberately, politically, maliciously mis-placed into schedule 1, making it illegal when factually, scientifically it should be a schedule 2, 3, or 4 legal drug if placement was even required. According to 21 U.S.C. & 321(p)  - Marijuana was grand-fathered in as a old drug and need not conform to modern standards, or classification’s. For Political reason’s the CSA ignored this 1938 law that to this day is still in-effect.

   Schedule 1 : 
     (1)-The drug or substance has a high potential for abuse. 
     (2)-The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the UNITED STATES
     (3)-There is a lack of acceptable safety for use of the drug or other substance’s under medical supervision. 

       Factually-scientifically marijuana does not meet this required description

    (1)-I and millions of other’s call marijuana use that ( “USE” )  not abuse. 
        noteno-one  has ever died from it. many use it for our benefit. 
    (2)-Marijuana has plenty of medical use’s, marijuana was used for thousands of years 
           medically prior to the1937 US racial decision to attempt to ban it’s use.  The 1937
           marijuana taxation act was a originally a Jim Crow law aimed at blacks and        Mexican’s
           who at that time were the only user’s on marijuana in this country 
         - The federal government itself dispenses marijuana  medicinally to patients, and 
            license’s corporations to duplicate it medicinal value with synthetic attempts to
            duplicate same medicinal value I.E. - marinol, THC  pills. 
     (3)-8 state’s have outright legalize marijuana for medical use and 32 others state’s 
            recognize marijuana’s medicinal value including New Jersey- It is on the ballot in 5 
           other state’s this NOV 7th, 2000. 

I made it known that I wished to utilize NJ CONSTITUTION article 1(6) - Which state’s:

 a person may freely speak, and in all prosecutions  - the truth may be given as evidence to the jury.  - The fact that marijuana doesn’t fit the description of a schedule 1 drug I had intended to make a highlight of my case, but unfairly, unlawfully. I was denied even expert witness’s to again tell the truth about marijuana. At the time of the plea acceptance the state had it’s expert Dr. Songza Park, Sr. - of the NJ State Police laboratory in West Trenton, NJ waiting to testify. I had three Dr.’s willing to travel, testify as my expert witness’s but the Office of the Public Defender Refused to pay for the expense’s - Michael Freidmann told me to “ask NORML”- (1) DR John P. Morgan , Professor of Pharmacology at CUNY, author of “Marijuana Myths and Facts” 1998. - (2) Dr.Julian Hiecklien, Professor of Chemistry Penn State,. (3) Dr. Steven Fenichell, General Practitioner, Ocean City NJ

    Again,  this is a right ( to present the truth) as defined by the NJ Constitution but because the legal profession wants to keep it’s cash cow (The Marijuana Laws) intact, as well as the state’s desire to keep it’s Marijuana Prohibition intact I had no assistance in my defense, to the point even my right: to present witness’s was being denied as per NJ Constitution Article 1: ( 10) In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury; to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel in his defense.
 

3.- The Judge errored in his Voir Dire - again preventing me from having a fair trial.

 - according to again NJ -Vs- RAGLAND  - The Judge was to  in addition to being asked whether they (potential jurors) believed they will be able to obey the court’s charge, should also be asked if they believed they will be able to ignore the courts charge. If the nullification power is desirable, then, obviously, juries should include only those people who are capable of exercising it. In my case Judge Thompson didn’t do this and was in error for not doing it. Again my legal advisor should have helped me object to this.  I’m not going to allege the Judge did it deliberately but had the trial gone to the Jury I would have asked for a mis-trial on this issue (wrong jury instructions at VOIR DIRE), if it was denied I would have asked for it on appeal.  –“assistance from the assist of counsel would have been greatly appreciated at this point, but again assist of counsel failed to ever meet with me to plan any strategy or tactic’s.

4. - Last minute Discovery admitted into record. 

    The biggest surprise of my trial wasn’t really the legal professions lack of assistance in my defense it was my brother’s testimony. I didn’t get a copy of his plea agreement or statements until Sept 18th, the day my trial began. He had re-assured me on several occasions that he didn’t mention my name at all. - Now he admits he didn’t think I would really go to trial either and made the statements just to get the deal the state had offered. This is exactly why state plea bargains should be illegal. They are nothing but state sanctioned bribery, bribery is an illegal act. - A act that even state prosecutors should not be allowed to do. - Again plea bargains force citizens to make statements that aren’t true in order to avoid imprisonment. I had asked on several occasions for all discovery material. In fact on court record on July 18th before Judge Brown Mr. Wynne said, defense had every thing he had. Then on Sept.
the day of trial, Mr. Wynne presents this additional discovery, with a halfhearted explanation of just getting it. -(yeah right - and I’m a Catholic) 

 A. The most valuable thing a person posses is his/her freedom. The state of New Jersey offers a person (my brother) his or her freedom in exchange for testimony is a violation of 
(18 U.S.C. 210(c) (2)) - that says giving or offering “anything of value... for or because of testimony is illegal. Leniency is something of value, a persons freedom is something of value.  The anti-gratuity provision of 18 U.S.C. 210 (c) (2) indicates congresses belief that justice is undermined by giving, offering, or promising anything of value for testimony, ” - “If justice is perverted when a criminal defendant seeks to buy testimony from a witness, it is no less perverted when the government does so.” - In my case my brother testified to what the government wanted (ME) at his plea deal, deliberately with-held that from me, thinking I wouldn’t go to trial.  ( 90% of all drug cases are plea bargained away- according to Gloucester County Prosecutor Yurick- see exhibit 4)

b. Again had I had legal assistance I would have tried to have these statements thrown out, or at least objected to it’s inclusion on this basis. My legal assistant didn’t even bother to appear, (Sept 18th, the first day of Trial) instead he sent one of his law partners daughters to baby sit me, she had no clue, or experience in a first degree criminal trial. She didn’t advise me to object, probably because she wasn’t aware of the previous statements. Again my right to counsel for assistance was vital to my case but because of the lack of assistance rendered, this opportunity was lost. - 
 

                                                         DEMAND
    That the court recognize the irregularities of the trial at the point plea was forced onto defendant and allow defendant Edward Forchion to withdraw to withdrawal  GUILTY PLEA and have a fair JURY TRIAL as guaranteed under the US and NJ Constitutions. The State of New Jersey Bribed defendant out of his right to a trial, in a few moments of mental anguish. Defendant was getting no Zealous or Adamant assistance from court appointed assistant, because of the conspiracy to prevent my legal defense between the Office of the Camden
County Public Defenders Office and the State Prosecutors Office. The states offer of such leniency in exchange for my "TESTIMONY" was an act of bribery.  The state obtained its guilty testimony from defendant with an illegal act -"BRIBERY", while defendant was suffering from a mental breakdown. 

 EDWARD “njweedman” FORCHION 
PRO SE - 
 


 


THE GLOUCESTER COUNTY TIMES
10/14/2000
FORCHION CRUSADING TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA 

He calls himself an "American dissident." 

But that doesn't stop Edward "njweedman" Forchion from running for a First District seat in Congress and a seat on the Camden County Board of Freeholders. 

Forchion, 36, of Browns Mills, said his campaign is basically a protest advocating the legalization of marijuana, a stance that has gotten him into serious trouble with the law. 

"I don't think I will get enough votes to oust (incumbent Democrat) Rob Andrews.  But this is my opportunity to present my case," Forchion said.  "This is my opportunity to voice my opinion in public." 

Wearing a T-shirt that reads "I love my country, but I fear my government," Forchion explained his Legalize Marijuana Platform. 

"Marijuana should be legal.  I am telling the truth about marijuana," he said.  "For the last 50 to 60 years, the government has lied about marijuana, using these lies to incarcerate people.  Marijuana is not dangerous.  If it doesn't suit you, then don't use it." 

Forchion compared the high number of deaths per year from alcohol and tobacco use to those related to marijuana use. 

"Nearly 400,000 people a year die from tobacco.  If anyone should be in jail it should the chief executive officers of the tobacco industry," he said.  "And the government has the nerve to call marijuana a dangerous substance.  It is supposed to be free country.  How is it a free country if you don't have the right to regulate your own body?" 

Arrested on Nov.  24, 1997 during a drug raid in Bellmawr, Forchion faced more than 20 years in prison and $300,000 in fines.  He and his brother, Russell, 30, were arrested a short distance from the Bellmawr Industrial Park with 45 pounds of marijuana in their van. 

At that time, Forchion pleaded not guilty and began mounting a defense based on jury nullification -- under which jurors refuse to convict because they believe the law that a person is accused of violating is unconstitutional -- and freedom of religion. 

Then in February, he faced another conspiracy charge for a drug transaction in which he introduced two parties.  This is added to the list of arrests he has had for minor drug possession offenses. 

"I can be arrested for marijuana any day of the week," he said. 

After months and months of being in and out of court for the 1997 and February arrests, Forchion pleaded guilty to a combined lesser charge about two weeks ago. 

Forchion could have to report to jail in December for anywhere from two to four months.  But on Tuesday, he filed a withdrawal of his plea claiming he had an "unfair trial." 

"A lot of people don't understand jury nullification.  Inherently, the jury had the right and power to judge a law as well as evidence," he said. 

He admits that being found guilty would bar him from serving in political office, but he still insists on getting his name on the ballot.  And he insists that nothing is official until he is actually sent to jail. 

Forchion, who grew up in Sicklerville, graduated from Edgewood High School in 1982.  He joined the Army National Guard and attended Claflin College in Orangeburg, S.C. 

He then joined the Marines in 1986, but was discharged after an asthma attack.  Forchion confessed that he then switched his name and re-enlisted.  He was then honorably discharged in 1990. 

Forchion bought own truck in 1993 and was a coast to coast driver until he was arrested in 1997 after the Bellmawr drug transaction.  Since then Forchion has spent most of his time maintaining his Web site and preparing his defense. 

"I felt that I had something to gain.  I wanted to spread the word before I was thrown in jail," he said.  "All this actually saved my life." 

Another issue Forchion said he feels very strongly about is abortion. 

"Abortion is murder.  I know I have offended people by saying it like that.  Life begins at conception," he said. 

He then asked, "This person has a right to regulate her body, then why don't I have the right to regulate my body?" 


 
 

PRESS COVERAGE OF PLEA WITHDRAW

                         The TIMES of Trenton
 

Candidate's plea going to pot

10/19/00

By BETH E. FAND
Staff Writer
 
 

MOUNT HOLLY -- Last month, Ed Forchion felt like a winner when he accepted a reduced jail sentence in exchange for admission that he helped smuggle 40 pounds of marijuana into New Jersey.

Since then, he has begun feeling more like a hypocrite who took a bribe.

So Forchion, a candidate for a seat on the Burlington County freeholder board, says he plans to back out of the deal.

The 36-year-old Pemberton Township man, who is running on the Legalize Marijuana Party ticket, says he isn't comfortable pleading guilty because he doesn't believe it should be a crime to smoke marijuana -- which he says he uses in his Rastafarian religion -- to alleviate back pain, clear his mind and boost creativity.

Forchion had intended to argue that the jury should find the law flawed and acquit him.

The protest candidate, who expects to get only about 1,000 votes in November's election, says he's ready to make that argument before a jury again, even though he has already lost his home, his trucking business and even a custody battle over a daughter because of his activism.

Besides being charged several times for smoking marijuana during protests, he was arrested on charges he bought the drug just three days after he signed his plea agreement, something he took as a sign from God that he should pursue his beliefs.

"I am a patriot," said Forchion, a married father of four who is free on $65,000 bail. "When people start allowing the government to treat you unfair, it spreads. That's why we have the situation we have now with the war on drugs."

But it may not be that easy for Forchion to pull out of the deal. Camden County Prosecutor Lee Solomon said Forchion will have to convince a judge to void the deal by proving that his agreement was not voluntary, or that he was not adequately represented by an attorney, Solomon said. He said those arguments will probably be heard on Forchion's scheduled sentencing date, Dec. 8.

Forchion expects to have no problem proving he was not properly represented. Forchion, who was going to act as his own lawyer, says he was entitled to help from the public defender's office but didn't get full cooperation.

Jeff Beach, a spokesman for the New Jersey public defender's office, said that was because Forchion insisted on a jury nullification defense, meaning he intended to ask the jury to acquit him because they found applicable drug laws unreasonable.

Jury nullification is not considered an acceptable defense in New Jersey, and Judge Stephen W. Thompson ordered Forchion not to pursue it, Beach said. As a result, he said, public defender Jaime Kaigh was not able to comply when Forchion asked him to subpoena certain witnesses and submit a motion asking the judge to allow the jury nullification defense.

Kaigh deemed one witness ineligible as an expert because he was going to testify that marijuana has been wrongly classified as one of the most dangerous drugs by the U.S. government, Beach said.

If Forchion is allowed to withdraw his plea, Solomon said Camden County will be "happy to try him" on charges he was involved in arranging for and picking up a shipment of 40 pounds of marijuana that came from Arizona to New Jersey in 1997. Forchion could face up to 20 years in state prison, at least 10 without parole.

Under the plea bargain, he would serve up to 10 years, with his first chance for parole after two years. If he was accepted into an intensive parole program under the deal, he could spend as little as six months in jail, a Camden County assistant prosecutor has said.

While Forchion says he doesn't expect to be acquitted, he feels certain he would end up with a hung jury after making his arguments. He says he was allowed to poll jurors before his trial was called off last month and found that at least five of them were on his side.

Assistant prosecutor John Wynne disagreed, saying jurors seemed worried that the marijuana Forchion is accused of smuggling could have ended up in the hands of children.

Forchion said the marijuana would have been sold to friends, and while it might have reached a few children, it would not have been marketed specifically to youngsters by drug pushers standing on street corners.

He said the government could stop those who do sell marijuana to schoolchildren by legalizing the drug and regulating the way it is sold.

"It should be in stores," he said. "The government creates the black market."
 


THE BURLINGTON COUNTY TIMES

'Weedman' wants to withdraw guilty plea
(10/19/2000)
By Mike Mathis 
BCT staff writer 

CAMDEN - Ed "njweedman" Forchion is attempting to withdraw his guilty plea for conspiring to distribute 40 pounds of marijuana.

Forchion, 36, a Pemberton Township resident who is running for Burlington County Freeholder and Congress on the Legalize Marijuana Ticket, pleaded guilty to lesser charges last month during his trial in state Superior Court here.

However, Forchion has filed papers Oct. 11 to withdraw his plea, saying he agreed to it "in a moment of extreme anxiety and temporary loss of my faith." 

An observer of the Rastafarian faith, Forchion has said he smokes marijuana for religious reasons as well as to help ease back pain. 

He said he realized that entering the plea was wrong when he was arrested several days later after buying three ounces of marijuana in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia, he said.

"I immediately knew I had made a mistake, and two days later God sent me another sign that my mission to free the herb was not complete and I had diverted from His mission," Forchion said. "The plea was not what God had intended of me." 

Assistant Camden County Prosecutor John Wynne said he would argue against allowing Forchion to withdraw the plea. 

A decision on Forchion's motion is likely before Forchion is sentenced in early December. 

"There is nothing in the motion that would be grounds for a withdraw of the plea," Wynne said. 

Meanwhile, Forchion's name will remain on the Nov. 7 ballot in both the freeholder and First Congressional District races. 

Forchion pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and to two unrelated cases. In exchange, he received a sentence under which he could spend as little as six months in prison and be subject to intensive supervisory parole (ISP) for up to 27 months. 

Had he been convicted of the more-serious distribution charges, Forchion could have been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. 

Forchion's defense strategy was jury nullification, in which a jury decides not to enforce a law out of sympathy for the defendant. It was, however, a strategy the lawyer assigned to assist him in the trial refused to allow him to use, said Forchion, who represented himself in the case. 

Forchion was assisted by Jaime Kaigh, a Cherry Hill attorney who was assigned to Forchion through the state Office of the Public Defender, department spokesman Jeff Beach said. 

"I felt I was getting an unfair trial in the first place," Forchion said. "I got more leeway than I thought I would get, but I wasn't getting a fair trial. I wanted to present the truth, that the law (against marijuana use) is wrong." 

Beach said the defense strategy was barred by the judge prior to the start of the trial.
"We offered what help we could, but we can't go in and argue the issues Mr. Forchion would like us to argue," Beach said. "Where he wanted to go, we can't go there with him." 

Forchion, a former truck driver who has been an outspoken advocate of legalizing marijuana, was charged with helping his brother and another man pick up a shipment of 40 pounds of marijuana at the Bellmawr Industrial Park on Nov. 24, 1997. The marijuana was shipped from a marijuana supplier in Arizona via Federal Express.

Russell Forchion and Eric Poole pleaded guilty to lesser charges and served short jail terms. 

Forchion ran unsuccessfully against incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-1st, of Haddon Heights in 1998 on the Legalize Marijuana Party ticket. 

He also ran unsuccessfully last year for seats representing the Eighth State Assembly District and on the Camden County Freeholder board. 



THE COURIER POST
11/24/2000

LEGAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATE FLEES TO CANADA TO AVOID PRISON  by Jason Lauglin

Edward Forchion, a Browns Mills man who has campaigned to legalize marijuana, has fled to Canada to avoid a jail sentence for possession of the drug. 

Forchion, 36, left the United States last weekend and has sought asylum at the Cuban Embassy in Canada, he said in a phone call to the Courier-Post.  His sentencing is scheduled for Dec.  1 in Superior Court in Camden

"I can't just walk into jail," Forchion said Wednesday. 

Forchion ran unsuccessfully this fall for a Burlington County freeholder's seat and the 1st District congressional seat. 

He said he arrived Wednesday at the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, bags in hand.  The embassy denied his verbal request for asylum and asked him to put it in writing. 

Forchion pleaded guilty to conspiracy and marijuana possession but filed a motion to retract his plea. 

He could be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, but he can apply to the state's Intense Supervised Probation program, which could allow him to be released under strict monitoring after serving about six months of his term.  Without the program, he would be eligible for parole in about 30 months. 

Forchion would become a fugitive if he does not show up for his Dec.  1 hearing, said Greg Reinert, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's office. 

"As with all cases, if the defendant fails to appear on his sentencing date on Dec.  1, the prosecutor will move to revoke bail and begin proceedings to have any posted bail forfeited and to seek to have that defendant extradited from any jurisdiction he is hiding in," Reinert said. 

Forchion pleaded guilty in September, saying he wanted to be out of jail to see his children.  His children were not with him in Canada, he said.  He remains committed to legalizing marijuana in the United States, he said. 

"I don't hurt anybody.  I should be allowed to smoke," he said. 



 

-



                                  THE TRENTONIAN
11/24/2000

LOVE IT OR LEAF IT

To avoid a possible prison sentence, Edward Forchion, a pro-marijuana activist, has fled the country and requested asylum from the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa

He tried to change the system by civil disobedience and running for elected office.  Now the candidate who campaigned as "NJ Weedman'' says he wants asylum. 

Instead of facing a possible prison sentence in New Jersey, Edward Forchion is in Canada hoping the Cuban Embassy will take him in. 

"I can't just walk into jail,'' Forchion told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill for its Thursday editions. 

Forchion arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday and met with officials at the Cuban Embassy.  His verbal request for asylum was denied and he was asked to submit one in writing, Forchion told the newspaper. 

"I didn't hurt anybody.  I should be allowed to smoke,'' he said. 

Authorities alleged Forchion was part of a drug ring that had 25 pounds of marijuana shipped to a business in the Bellmawr Industrial Park

In October 1998, Forchion was indicted on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute. 

He was on the ballot at the time as the "legalize marijuana party'' candidate looking to replace U.S.  Rep.  Rep.  Rob Andrews, a Democrat from Camden County in the 1st Congressional District.  Forchion pleaded guilty in state Superior Court to conspiracy and possession.  With a hearing set for 

Dec.  1, Forchion faced up to 10 years in state prison. 

He has since filed a motion seeking to retract that guilty plea. 

Arrests and political campaigns continued. 

In March, Forchion appeared at the State House for an Assembly session wearing a black and white striped prisoner's costume. 

On the floor of the Assembly chambers, Forchion allegedly began smoking marijuana.  He was escorted out by state troopers and arrested. 

He said it was an act of civil disobedience to highlight what he said is the state's discrimination of marijuana users. 

Forchion ran again this year as a third-party opponent to Andrews.  Forchion was also on the ballot in Burlington County for a seat on the freeholder board. 

During a campaign news conference outside the courthouse in Mount Holly, Forchion again reportedly began smoking marijuana.  That appearance was ended by the Burlington County sheriff. 

If Forchion does not appear in court for his sentencing hearing, he would be considered a fugitive. 

"The prosecutor will move to revoke bail and begin proceedings to have any posted bail forfeited and to seek to have that defendant extradited,'' Camden County prosecutor's spokesman Greg Reinert told the newspaper. 
 



                                  THE TRENTONIAN
11/27/2000
                                      UP IN SMOKE

Waiting in Canada for asylum in Cuba, the New Jersey Weedman is confident that he could argue out of existence the anti-marijuana laws in the Garden State

If only he was given a chance. 

"I didn't get a fair trial.  I have a right to choose my defense.  I have a right to legal assistance.  I chose to challenge the laws with the jury and I am entitled to assistance from counsel to do this," said New Jersey pot-legalization activist Edward Forchion. 

Calling The Trentonian from an undisclosed location in Canada, Forchion said he will find out today whether officials will grant him asylum in Cuba

He also expressed conflicted emotions about his Canadian jaunt, declaring that he dearly missed his wife Janice and his five children: King, Daeja, Ajanea, Maria and Chanel. 

"I'm a little stressed out and all.  I don't know whether I made the right move or not," Forchion admitted over the phone. 

The practicing Rastafarian, who stunned onlookers in March when he lit a joint in the chambers of the New Jersey Assembly, faces a sentencing hearing Friday for charges on conspiracy and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. 

Authorities allege that Forchion was part of a group that had shipped 25 pounds of marijuana to a business in the Bellmawr Industrial Park

In Oct., 1998, Forchion was indicted on the conspiracy and possession charges related to those allegations. 

Forchion pleaded guilty in state Superior Court to these charges but subsequently filed a motion to retract the plea. 

With Friday's sentencing hearing, Forchion could face up to 10 years in prison. 

However, he argued that he will not officially become a fugitive from American law enforcement until Friday. 

Forchion said that he will think about his next move after he receives the result of his asylum request from officials of Cuba, which he made last week. 

"If nothing else, they took it seriously, I'll tell you that," he said. 

He added that he also made requests for asylum in several European countries and is waiting for a response from those governments as well. 

Forchion's argument for asylum is simple: He was denied a fair trial when officials denied him the right to use a legal defense known as "Jury Nullification." 

In this process, a defendant indicted of charges outlined in a newly enacted law can argue to a jury that the law is bogus. 

Forchion's argument was given support by a July 20, 1999 editorial written by Haddon Heights-based attorney David Marcos Ragonese -- who also stressed in the editorial that he did not approve of Forchion's lifestyle. 

In that editorial, Ragonese wrote of "jury nullification" that "it is an indispensable political right in a free, self-governing republic." 

Ragonese wrote later in the editorial that "jurors serving in New Jersey Superior Court are left in the dark regarding their power and right to pass on issues of law and fact in criminal prosecutions." 

Admitting that whileconsitutions of only three states ( Maryland, Georgia and Indiana ) explicitly protect "the right and power of juries to nullify the law," Ragonese argued that "I would agree that the New Jersey Constitution implicitly recognizes jury nullification and commands that jurors be instructed regarding their proper function." 

Even Camden's Assistant Deputy Public Defender Deborah C.  Collins admitted to the power of "jury nullification" in a June 3, 1999 letter to Camden County Judge Ronald J.  Freeman. 

"Jury's power of nullification by finding guilty defendant not guilty is unfortunate but unavoidable power that should not be advertised, but to extent constitutionally permissible, should be limited; efforts to protect and expand jury nullification are inconsistent with real values of system of criminal justice," Collins wrote. 

Forchion argues that the Camden Public Defender's Office should have allowed him and assisted his efforts to use jury nullification against New Jersey's anti-marijuana laws. 

He argues that New Jersey's zero-tolerance pot policy is unrealistic given national trends of growing acceptance towards marijuana use for medicinal purposes -- which he said is legal in over 35 states. 

"New Jersey marijuana laws, and the extreme prison sentences they prescribe, don't match up with the crime, nor with scientific fact or evidence." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
 
 

-



           THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
12/02/2000

MARIJUANA ADVOCATE IS SENTENCED TO PRISON

The highly unusual drug case involving marijuana-legalization advocate Edward Forchion came to a conclusion yesterday as he was sentenced to prison for his part in brokering a drug deal for his brother. 

With Forchion's wife, Janice, and two of his young children in the courtroom, Camden County Superior Court Judge Stephen W. Thompson sentenced Forchion to a 10-year prison term.  Forchion will be eligible for parole in slightly less than two years, and he could apply for intensive supervisory parole in six months. 

"I don't smoke marijuana," Janice Forchion said after the trial.  "But I don't understand why they let murderers, rapists and pedophiles off so quickly and put away marijuana smokers." 

If Forchion, of Browns Mills, pursues the supervisory parole option, he could be tested at any time under the program. 

Forchion - who has been cited for lighting marijuana joints in the chambers of the New Jersey Legislature and the office of U.S.  Rep.  Rob Andrews ( D., N.J.  ) - says he remains an unapologetic marijuana smoker. 

A Rastafarian, Forchion has said he smokes marijuana for religious reasons, to relieve physical ailments, and to soothe chronic depression.  Since the mid-1990s, Forchion, a former cross-country truck driver, has been an outspoken advocate of legalizing marijuana. 

In November, he ran unsuccessfully for the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders and a U.S.  House seat under the Legalize Marijuana Party. 

Assistant Prosecutor John Wynne Jr.  said the Prosecutor's Office would not contest Forchion's application for the parole. 

When he entered a guilty plea in September, Forchion acknowledged that he introduced his brother, Russell, to a marijuana supplier in Arizona and had flown to Tucson on behalf of his brother in October 1997 to seal the sale of about 40 pounds of marijuana. 

The shipment was delivered to the Bellmawr Industrial Park by Federal Express. 

Shortly after picking up the marijuana, Russell Forchion was arrested as he drove away from the park, authorities said.  Edward Forchion, who was driving behind him, was also arrested. 

A third man, Eric Poole, who signed for the package, was convicted of a lesser crime.  Russell Forchion testified for the prosecution, and served about five months in prison before being placed on intensive supervisory parole. 

In his September trial, Edward Forchion served as his own attorney.  In his opening statement, he criticized what he said were unjust marijuana laws and asked jurors to invoke jury nullification, in which a jury can set aside the law it believes that the law is unjust.  Jury nullification cannot be advertised to a jury under New Jersey law, but Wynne did not object during the proceeding. 

The trial ended when Wynne offered Forchion what both said was a good deal - potentially spending as little as six months in prison. 

But before the sentencing yesterday, the judge heard a motion from Forchion to withdraw his guilty plea.  Forchion said that he did not get a proper trial, because the Public Defender's Office refused to pay for expert witnesses to testify on his behalf.  He said he wanted a new trial. 

Wynne successfully countered that if Forchion were given a new trial, the first trial would have been essentially a practice run, something that every attorney would like but that collides with the integrity of the system. 

The judge denied Forchion's motion to withdraw. 

"In the middle of the trial, you elected to plead guilty, sir," Thompson said. 

Forchion said that he pondered not showing up in court yesterday.  Last week, he called news organizations in South Jersey to say he had fled to Canada and was seeking asylum at the Cuban Embassy there. 

By Wednesday, he sent e-mails to the media that he would appear for his sentencing. 

"I didn't want [my wife] to lose the house," said Forchion, referring to the home she put up to post his $65,000 bail. 

Judge Stephen W. Thompson, said he believed Forchion was sincere in his advocacy for reform of marijuana laws.  But he noted that Forchion did break the law. 

"Your beliefs at this juncture are misguided," Thompson said. 
 
 
 
 


 
 


WEEDMAN wants to be called NJWEEDMAN.COM!

02-06-2002

 
 

  WEEDMAN FREED!
4/3/2002


 
 
 

WEEDMAN JAILED AGAIN

8-19-2002