Category Archives: Activists

THE NJ WEEDMAN HEADS TO COURT

THE WEEDMAN HEADS TO COURT ( 4/25/2012)

Ed Forchion, dreadlocks falling across his face, sat in a booth at the Dolphin Diner on Route 130 in Burlington Township, explaining how he plans victory “for potheads everywhere.”

“I win this case, I’m a hero, a legend. One juror — just one — that’s all I need,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to tell who, too. You know how some people have ‘gaydar’ — they can tell who’s gay? I have ‘weedar.’ I can tell who’s cool with weed.”

He’ll look for that person in a courtroom at the county courthouse in Mount Holly, where his trial for possession of a pound of pot is set to begin May 1.

Forchion, 47, is known as NJWeedman, a celebrity among dedicated marijuana smokers.

At the diner, people wave to him. A man several booths away mouths “good luck.” Weedman returns the warm regards.

“See? That guy knows who I am,” he said.

Of course, it’s hard to miss his calling card in the parking lot — a van artistically adorned from bumper to bumper with pro-weed slogans, marijuana leaves, and depictions of himself blowing pot smoke into Uncle Sam’s face. He calls it the Weedmobil. He traveled in it with a friend from his home in Los Angeles, where he is the proprietor of a medical marijuana shop.

Or was. Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency busted him. This compounded his bust in Mount Holly in 2010. Forchion had been visiting family when he was pulled over for a traffic violation, and the police found weed in his rental car.

Now, awaiting trial, he’s broke and using Facebook to solicit contributions to put gas in the Weedmobil.

In spite of this, he seems a cheerful soul. He is a charming dining companion, tells good stories, smiles easily, and is unfailingly polite. His cause is the legalization of marijuana, which, he said, he uses daily. (He produced a document from Dr. Edward A. Alexander of Los Angeles, who vouches for Forchion’s need for pot, not only for medical reasons but also for “spiritual” reasons. Forchion is a Rastafarian.)

“I’ve been called a fakin’ Jamaican, but this is who I am,” he said.

Forchion was born in New Jersey and grew up in Sicklerville, Camden County. Good parents. Happy childhood.

“The first time I smoked pot was right here in Willingboro,” he said. “I was 14 or 15. It was the summer of 1979. It was a peer-pressure thing. My cousin was there, and these kids were all passing around a joint, right there in Pennypacker Park.”

He inhaled, got the giggles, and thoroughly enjoyed the high.

“That day was when I realized that pot is not some boogeyman, like in ‘Reefer Madness.’ That was a good day, a defining moment in my life,” he said.

After high school, Forchion enlisted in the Marines. A health issue got him a medical discharge. He spent six years in the Army, where he was trained as a medical technician.

He married, divorced and has five children, ages 5 to 26. He worked as an independent coast-to-coast trucker. It was in Phoenix in the early 1990s where he realized the appealing economics of dealing weed.

“You could buy a pound for $300 in Phoenix and sell it in Jersey for $1,200,” he said. “So I got 10 pounds and sold it. Then I got 30 pounds.”

He was rolling in dough. He bought a house in Chesilhurst, Camden County, next to the police chief’s place. In the late 1990s, he was busted, served three months in prison, got out, and moved to the pot-friendly West Coast.

Forchion’s case in Burlington County is novel in two ways. Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey will permit him to represent himself. Also, Forchion will attempt to get the jury to acquit him through nullification. That is, although jurors may believe a defendant is guilty, they acquit him anyway due to other circumstances.

He said his courtroom pitch will appeal to “common sense.”

“The law they’re prosecuting me under is unconstitutional,” he said. “The (federal law) classifies pot as a Schedule I drug, which means it has no ‘accepted’ medical value. On the other hand, the state of New Jersey has approved the use of medical marijuana. So, which is it?”

Hmm.

“Like I said,” said the Weedman, “all I need is one juror to agree with me. Just one.”

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RE: Chuck Byrnes from HempRock Radio “Burnman”…

 

 

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High Everyone. We’re sad to say our friend and fellow activist, Chuck ‘the Burnman’ Byrnes from HempRock Radio and TV, is loosing his battle with cancer!

I know he’d love to hear from you all so we’re asking those of you who can’t visit him or reach him by phone, to please leave a message for him on the HempRock Hempline. I will be collecting them over the next few days and will burn them all on a CD for him to listen to. You can leave up to a 3 minute message.

Thanx from me and Burnman!

HempRock Hempline 513-68-4-HEMP (4367)

San Francisco Supervisors, Oaksterdam official speak

By: Bay City News | 04/03/12 4:55 PM

An enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 medical marijuana patients and supporters rallied at San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday to hear six city supervisors and an Oaksterdam University official decry a recent federal crackdown on cannabis dispensaries.

The midday protest was planned five weeks ago, according to Americans for Safe Access Executive Director Steph Sherer, but coincidentally came the day after Monday’s federal searches of Oaksterdam University, a cannabis industry trade school in Oakland.

Oaksterdam Executive Chancellor Dale Jones, speaking from the steps of City Hall, evoked both the raids and the unrelated mass shooting that also occurred in Oakland on Monday and resulted in the deaths of seven people at Oikos University.

“Two universities were struck yesterday,” said Jones, who said police resources should be used to prevent violence and not to stop patients from obtaining medical marijuana.

“Why are law enforcement officers guarding a plant that hasn’t killed a person in human history?” she asked.

Jones told the crowd, “This raid was meant to demoralize us, but it did not cripple us, it merely galvanized us.”

Federal agents searched Oaksterdam’s headquarters and four other Oakland sites associated with Oaksterdam President Richard Lee on Monday. The school teaches courses on marijuana horticulture and dispensary management.

Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said he could not comment on possible next steps in the investigation or on when the search warrants used in the raids will be unsealed.

Tuesday’s San Francisco rally was aimed at protesting a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries announced in October by the four regional U.S. attorneys in California, including Haag, who is the chief federal prosecutor for Northern California.

The prosecutors said they planned to target large-scale commercial enterprises that operate under the guise of providing medical marijuana. Haag said her office would begin by concentrating on dispensaries near schools and parks.

California’s Compassionate Use Act, approved by state voters in 1996, allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s permission, but federal laws criminalizing the drug make no exception for state medical marijuana laws.

Eaton said Haag had no comment onTuesday’s protest.

Six supervisors — a majority of the 11-member Board of Supervisors — told the crowd they opposed the crackdown, as audience members cheered and waved signs saying “Cannabis is medicine, let states regulate.”

They were Board President David Chiu and Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, Christina Olague and Scott Wiener.

“What people are asking for is something simple: they need access to their medicine,” Olague said.

“I hope that in a few short years, everyone in the United States will understand what we are fighting for,” Chiu said.

Several other legislators and officials, including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma, and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, did not attend the rally in person, but sent representatives with messages of support.

Charley Pappas, a patient and the former operator of the now-closed Divinity Tree Patients Wellness Cooperative in the city, said, “We’re not a profit-making criminal organization. We are supplying medicine for those who need it.”

The dispensary on Geary Street at the edge of the Tenderloin District, which was near a small public playground, was forced to shut down after Haag’s office threatened Pappas’s landlord with forfeiture of his property.

After the speeches, the crowd marched two blocks to the Federal Building, which houses Haag’s office, and chanted “Shame, shame, shame” and “We’re patients, not criminals” at the building before dispersing.

I-502 advocates support ‘local solution’ for dealing with marijuana prohibition

By Mike Faulk
Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — When George Rohrbacher talks about marijuana prohibition, his biggest concern isn’t the merits of the drug, but a statistic he likes to call "the butcher’s bill."

The numbers add up to about 26 million over the last 40 years. They don’t represent the costs of enforcement, but the number of people who have been arrested for using pot.

"Even today, in the year 2012, we will arrest another 850,000 Americans for pot," said Rohrbacher, a former state lawmaker, before a crowd of about 150 people at the Capitol Theatre on Wednesday night. "This is a national disgrace with a local solution."

Rohrbacher and former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper shared the stage and statistics supporting Initiative 502, which calls for the state to regulate and sell marijuana for recreational use to adults. The measure would also impose a 25 percent excise tax.

"Marijuana is dangerous, but only if you get arrested for it," Rohrbacher said to laughter and applause from the audience.

Stamper, a spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, compared the current laws to alcohol prohibition, and the black market and associated violence that sprang up as a result.

"Marijuana prohibition causes crime," Stamper said. "It causes violence and it causes deaths."

The heart of the matter for voters should be whether the impact of enforcement of laws against marijuana matches the hypothetical consequences of legalizing its use, said Stamper, who served as Seattle police chief from 1994 to 2000.

Rohrbacher, a Klickitat County farmer who was an appointed Republican senator from the 17th District in Clark County during the late 1980s.

Under the initiative, residents 21 years and older could buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana; one pound of marijuana-infused product in solid form, such as brownies; or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids.

Washington state already has a voter-approved medical marijuana law that gives doctors the right to recommend — but not prescribe — marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause "intractable pain."

"Last year there were 1,000 deaths in the U.S. from gastric bleeding caused by aspirin," Rohrbacher said. "Do you know how many deaths in this country last year were caused by marijuana?

"Zero."

Stamper said legalization doesn’t open the doors to the public’s use of marijuana when in fact the substance is already available widely on the black market. He said it would be more difficult for minors to access marijuana if it were legalized and regulated, rather than obtained clandestinely from drug dealers.

Also on stage were Alison Holcomb, the director of Initiative 502 sponsor New Approach Washington, and local criminal defense attorney Alex Newhouse.

Holcomb said the federal government has shown that it may not always challenge states’ marijuana reform laws, such as for medicinal purposes, but it will never spearhead efforts to legalize marijuana. That’s up to the states, she said.

"This is an issue where the federal government will not take leadership," Holcomb said. "The states have to take leadership."

A recent analysis by the state Office of Financial Management estimated that I-502 could raise at least $560 million a year in new taxes. However, the analysis noted that revenues would be "adversely impacted" if federal authorities cracked down on the state, as they threatened to do when California voters were considering legalizing the drug in 2010. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

While a number of former and current law enforcement officials have announced their support for I-502, there remain plenty of detractors from the same community, including Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin.

"I understand there’s a large group of people who enjoy the effects of marijuana or think it should be available for medical reasons," Irwin said in an interview prior to Wednesday night’s event. "But I oppose society opening the door further to substances that will inebriate people."

Irwin could not cite numbers, but said he believes the amount of police resources going toward enforcement of marijuana laws is already minimal. He said the biggest expenses go toward busting major operations, such as outdoor marijuana grows.

"I think the efforts are very reasonable," Irwin said.

Some backers of Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee hope the initiative will give the former congressman a boost at the polls in November by bringing out younger liberal voters in support of the measure, although an Inslee campaign spokeswoman has said he will vote against it.

His chief Republican rival in the race, Attorney General Rob McKenna, also opposes the measure.


* Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

* Contact Mike Faulk at 509-577-7675 or mfaulk@yakimaherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Mike_Faulk.

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