Robert Edward "Ed" Forchion Jr. (born July 23, 1964), also known as NJWeedman, is an American Rastafari cannabis rights and free speech activist, frequent candidate for public office, actor, writer, and restaurateur. He is the founder of the Legalize Marijuana Party.
A resident of New Jersey and California, he is a registered medical cannabis user. He has been arrested and convicted for some of his activities and has mounted various legal defenses and challenges to laws regarding cannabis.
After his last arrest the state of New Jersey filed a motion on March 7, 2017, for pretrial detention to incarcerate Forchion until trial. Forchion held a hunger strike for nearly two weeks while being held without bail, calling himself a political prisoner.The trial began October 26, 2017. On November 8, the jury found him not guilty of one charge of second-degree witness tampering, and was hung on another charge in the third degree. In January 2018, he was again denied bail, pending a re-trial. His appeal to being denied bail and being released was denied in February 2018. In May 2018, in the second trial, he was acquitted by a jury on charges of witness tampering. He had spent 447 days in jail.
Forchion has been arrested several times and has mounted many legal challenges to his arrest and trials.
Forchion was arrested for "intent to distribute" on November 24, 1997 in Bellmawr, New Jersey. Forchion accepted a plea bargain for a 10-year state prison sentence in September 2000. In April 2002 he was released and admitted to New Jersey's intensive parole supervision program. State authorities claimed he violated terms of probation by filming several public service announcements advocating changes to New Jersey's drug laws and Forchion was held in jail. A federal judge later held that expulsion from the program and additional incarceration violated his free speech protections.
In 2010 Forchion was arrested in Mount Holly, New Jersey after a traffic stop. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute and convicted of possession and sentenced to two years probation and a $2,500 fine. However, the jury couldn't reach a verdict on intent to distribute. A separate trial was convened. and Forchion urged the jury to employ jury nullification to overturn an unjust law. The defense which proved effective and resulted in Forchion receiving a 12-0 verdict of acquittal. Despite this victory, his conviction for possession led Forchion to later be convicted for violating the terms of probation, a sentence for which the judge jailed him for nine months, and for which he lost his appeal. He was allowed out of custody intermittently to go to California for treatment of bone tumours (20 20-day periods of incarceration separated by 10-day periods of release). Forchion had a medical marijuana card from California and had argued that he was "convicted and sentenced to 270 days in jail only for bringing his legally prescribed medicine into the State of New Jersey."
Forchion was arrested April 15, 2013 in Evesham Township, New Jersey for possession. Forchion soon after published online his legal brief to the court (which contends that New Jersey laws on marijuana are contradictory) for use by others to fill-in and use in their own defense.
Forchion was arrested on various charges in Trenton in 2016. On March 3, 2017, Forchion was arrested and charged with second-degree witness tampering and third-degree witness tampering. He was ordered to be held without bail; his appeal for release was denied. Forchion was placed in pre-trial detention at the Mercer County Correction Center in Hopewell, New Jersey. Forchion began a hunger strike on June 12 and ending it June 27. In July 2017, Forchion made a motion to review his detention saying that his attorney had misrepresented him and that material evidence would clarify that his intentions would not qualify as witness tampering.
Forchion, in a petition for review has asked the New Jersey Supreme Court for a discretionary review stemming from his conviction. He asked; "Should the holding in State v. Tate, 102 N.J. 64 (1986), barring the necessity defense for possession of marijuana for medical purposes, be modified or overruled?", claiming that the ruling was outdated.
On March 8, 2016, Forchion and his lawyers filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (US Supreme Court Docket – 15-8533) with ten questions for review regarding race and religion as it relates to cannabis. The court declined.
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