Written by Edward Forcion and Heather Warburton
Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion is a soft-spoken, charismatic man. Ed earned his celebrity status as a cannabis legalization and free speech activist in his home state of New Jersey and around the country. If you spend any time with him in public the cries of “Hey Weedman” never seem to stop. At his restaurant/sanctuary in Trenton “NJWeedman’s Joint”, people flock to hang out for an hour or an evening. And, of course, they come to smoke with the Weedman himself.
Vice Magazine even called him a hero https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zm5enw/jerseys-weedman-is-the-hero-america-needs
A Man On A Mission
Under that charismatic exterior is a man on a serious mission. “For as long as I’ve been living, there’s been a war waged on us. A war declared by the government against us”. Ed is declaring that war over and the black market is the winner. He defines the black market as those who have been selling weed and serving the people of New Jersey for years. “That black market is thriving. There is more weed than ever before. The public has accepted it”. New Jersey stands on the cusp of legalizing weed, but now that same black market is being excluded. “The Black Market won the war, in all wars the winner divvies up the spoils, not the loser. But in this war on weed, the losers in government are divvying up the spoils and handing them to the corporate canna-baggers”
To that end, Ed is trying to organize the black market Weedmen and Weedwomen of New Jersey. “If you are arrested, don’t take a plea deal, use jury nullification, that is how we win. SB-2703 was a POLITICAL scheme to steal legalization from the people and hand it to the corporations. Senator Scutari has been bribed by the corporate canna-baggers to exclude anyone who operated in the black market”. Ed has started the hashtags #SellWeedLikeImWhite and #NJCantGet12 as way to connect with and organize other black market sellers and force social change through the court system.
“To me these hashtags are a modern way to communicate civil disobedience with millions. Imagine if 60 years ago, Rosa Parks had the hashtag #SitOnTheBusLikeImWhite or if the freedom riders had #SitAtTheCounterLikeImWhite.” Ed adds “They were resistance campaigns protesting inequality and that inspired my #SellWeedLikeImWhite. I am protesting the inequality of the new age marijuana industry in New Jersey…To those who say its racist, I say Open Your Eyes”
Since the 2010 enactment of C.U.M.M.A. only 6 wealthy Caucasians are allowed to posses, grow, and sell “Medical” marijuana legally in NJ. To everyone else is it still a schedule 1 controlled dangerous substance. Over 135,000 residents of New Jersey have been prosecuted under NJ Statute 2c:35-10 which denies medical use.
Caucasian Cannabis Corporations
Under proposed legislation SB-2307, the weed industry in New Jersey would only be for a select few wealthy white individuals. Weedman calls them “The Caucasian Cannabis Corporations”. Never fear though, Ed had a solution. “I am going to sell weed like a white guy, let them try to convict me – thus the hastag #NJCantGet12” You heard that right, Ed plans to shine a spotlight on what was once done in the shadows. He plans to protest the inequity and racism in the system by openly selling weed. “The prosecutors don’t know what to do with me. They can arrest me anytime they want and try to get 12 , which they won’t, or they can ignore me, and I will keep being an example to thousands of other black market cannabis providers”
What Ed is referring to here is a process called jury nullification. “I have been talking about jury nullification for as long as I have been talking about marijuana legalization. I could just have easily been known as the “Jury Nullification Man”.” Ed is ,once again, challenging the State to arrest him and try to convince 12 jurors that he is doing something wrong when a white guy in a thousand-dollar suit is doing the same thing down the street on a much larger scale. “Just prosecuting me will prove everything I am saying is right” He has every reason to be optimistic, since he beat a previous distribution charge using a similar defense. On June 6 2018 the prosecutors office dismissed the charges from Forcion’s 2016 arrest. The prosecutors office said they were dismissing the charges after considering the shift in the climate of cannabis legalization in NJ. “They are about 10 years too late” Forchion said of the change in public opinion of marijuana.
He adds “They can include me or deal with me, but I am not going away”. Ed was featured in 2010 film “How Weed Won The West” but he believes the way that will win the east is through jury nullification.
Weedman plans don’t stop at simply selling weed. He is also running for office in NJ’s 15th legislative district. His party affiliation is the “Legalize Marijuana Party” (what else). This isn’t just a stunt though. He has some serious plans. If he is elected, he has plans to introduce a comprehensive and justice-based legalization bill and a question for the general election ballot. He is currently working with advisers to draft those pieces of legislation.
His bill would include: the immediate release of all pot-prisoners (including parole and probation) home grow, employee job protections, automatic expungements, and a way for small mom and pop neighborhood dispensaries to open. His bill would essentially “legalize the black market and legalize those who are currently distributing marijuana in the state of NJ right now”
Sweeney and the legislature seem to be leaning toward a ballot question in 2020. Forchion insists that question must include: The release of all pot-prisoners, legalization for all adults to posses any amount of cannabis, the right to sell/barter/trade any amount, and expungement for all past charges.
His vision for the system is a tiered licensing system. A 500-dollar license can get you one level of permit, 5000 dollars could provide you a higher tier up to 100,000 dollars in sales, and then a separate corporate bill for mass distributors after the bill for the general public is passed. This would set up a fair system that includes everyone. A fair system would compensate those who have put in decades of labor making this happen. It must first include the victims of the drug war, who have gone to prison and had their lives impacted by almost a century of racist drug policy.
Will He Be Arrested?
Forchion announced from the statehouse floor he was going to sell weed like he was white, a few days later he sold openly outside the governor’s office. He again announced on March 21st in front of the statehouse he would continue to sell weed like he was white. At the time of publishing , the state has declined to give him the trial he wants.
With a smile, Ed looks forward to the day when he gets arrested, “I virtually dare the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office to get their asses legally whooped a 3rd time, as I run for state assembly and sell weed while not white. I look forward to this mockery of a trial and the clear image this will present to the world….that legalization is just as racist as prohibition”
Remember to check out of Community Cannabis Forum tomorrow night in Edison and her Ed Forchion as well as many others speak.