Judge dismisses 13 tickets against NJ Weedman

By Olivia Rizzo  For NJ.com

A Trenton Municipal Court judge this week dismissed 13 tickets citing late night violations at NJ Weedman’s Joint, the now-closed Trenton restaurant owned by Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion.

In February 2016, Trenton police continually shut down the restaurant and accompanying “cannabis church,” the Liberty Bell Temple, citing a city ordinance that requires some establishments to close down at 11 p.m.

But Forchion, who has been jailed for almost a year, has always argued that the tickets were “bogus” and did not apply to his businesses because they are in a designated commercial zone.

Trenton Municipal Court Judge Gregory Williams agreed that Forchion’s businesses were not considered a residential building, and dropped 13 of the 22 police lodged against Forchion or his business.

“I feel vindicated,” Forchion said in a phone interview from jail with NJ Advance Media. “It’s not often I have a judge completely on my side.”

Judge denies NJ Weedman's latest quest for freedom

Judge denies NJ Weedman’s latest quest for freedom

Ed Forchion has been locked up on pre-trial detention since March of last year

The marijuana advocate believes that the municipal tickets were the catalyst that led to the raid on his restaurant and his subsequent arrest, which later led to witness tampering charges – the case for which he remains jailed.

The remaining nine tickets, for various other violations, will be discussed in a municipal court hearing in March, Forchion said.

Forchion was found not guilty on one count of witness tampering, but faced a hung jury on the second count, in November 2017. His retrial is pending.

Olivia Rizzo may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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NJWeedman found not guilty in pot distribution case

 

MOUNT HOLLY — A jury found Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion not guilty Thursday in the Rastafarian activist’s marijuana distribution case.

The decision came after Forchion was nearly held in contempt of court in the morning as he delivered his closing argument.

 

Stay tuned for details of Thursday afternoon’s verdict.

Forchion, formerly of Pemberton Township, tried to introduce his jury nullification argument into the closing, but was quickly stopped by Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey, who had barred any discussion of it.

Forchion began verbally sparring with Delehey, who then ordered the jury out of the room and told the defendant he would be held in contempt if he continued to ignore the court’s orders.

“If you want to make a martyr of yourself, the court will deal with you,” the judge said. “You’ve done everything you can to disrupt this trial.”

Jury nullification would allow the jurors to disregard the law they were ordered to follow in considering the case and acquit a defendant, no matter what the evidence, in effect nullifying or invalidating the law.

Forchion, wearing a “Marijuana … It’s OK. It’s Just Illegal” T-shirt, refused to talk to his court-appointed attorney during the brief recess, but when Delehey and the jury returned, he toed the line and abandoned his blatant jury nullification pitch.

Instead, the legalization activist focused the jury on his plight as a licensed medical marijuana patient in California who brought a pound of pot to New Jersey in April 2010 for his own use.

“I don’t use it the way the state says. To me, it’s medicine, it’s food,” Forchion said, noting for the jury that he had been eating pot-laced cookies throughout the trial. “I feel I’m the victim of a flawed law.”

The state alleged that because of the sheer volume of the marijuana, his intent was to distribute it. Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Luciano told the jury that the case was not “a political referendum” on medical marijuana or legalization.

“It is not a litmus test on the war on drugs,” he said.

Luciano also said the numbers and common sense should lead to a guilty verdict, noting that Forchion had enough pot on him when he was stopped by police in Mount Holly on April 1, 2010, to smoke for months.

By Luciano’s calculations, Forchion would have to smoke two to three joints an hour nonstop for 24 hours to get through the pound of marijuana in about six months. NJWeedman disputed the prosecutor’s math and said it doesn’t fairly portray how he uses the drug.

“He had more than any person could smoke on their own,” Luciano said, reminding the jurors that they didn’t have to find he was selling it to convict him and that sharing also constitutes distribution. “He was going to distribute this for profit. He was going to distribute it because that’s what he believes, that’s his drug, that’s his food and that’s his plant.”

At a trial earlier this year, Forchion was convicted of possession, but the jury deadlocked on the more serious distribution charge, leading to this week’s retrial.

 

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