Mullane: Why New Jersey’s top weed advocate voted against legalizing it

JD Mullane

| Burlington County Times

Ed Forchion rolled through Trenton in his Weedmobile, a 2007 Chevy SUV, once owned by the Horsham, Pennsylvania, PD, but which he purchased for $6,500 from a guy in the city.

“Police package, big engine, it runs,” said Forchion, aka NJWeedman, New Jersey’s most recognizable advocate for legalizing recreational marijuana.

The Weedmobile is outfitted to look like a New Jersey State Trooper vehicle. Its decals are a satirical sendup that say “POT TROOPER” and “UNIT 420.” It’s so convincing that drivers pull out of Forchion’s way as he comes up behind them.

We took a left at City Hall. Forchion looked over, buzzed down the front windows and said, “Trust me, you’re not gonna die.”

He hit a button on the dash. A hissing sound came. The Weedmobile’s interior filled with stage fog from twin machines mounted in the rear.

“Look at the rear view,” Forchion said, laughing. The Weedmobile left clouds of smoke behind, Cheech and Chong-style. It was hard not to laugh along with Ed, a happy weed warrior, as we headed onto a highway.

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For years, Forchion, 56, has been a leading legalizer. His weed advocacy, along with extending his middle finger to state authorities, has resulted in arrests, trials, convictions, jail terms, releases, re-arrests and general harassment.

The U.S. Army veteran loves the fight. Eyeball to eyeball, Ed never blinks. He openly sells from his restaurant, “NJWeedman’s Joint”, which opened two and half years ago. He deliberately chose the location across from Trenton City Hall.

He was vindicated in the Nov. 3 elections. By huge margins, New Jerseyans approved amending the state Constitution to legalize “adult use” recreational marijuana. Forchion voted against. He has mixed feelings. On the one hand, soon no one will be popped for having a joint in their car. On the other, state regulators are going to crush the state’s thriving black market and all the little guys who white suburbanites patronize for their smoke.

“The vote did two things,” he said. “It set up an amendment to make it legal. That’s fine. The second part is the scheme.”

The scheme, he said, is a transparent money and power grab between New Jersey politicians who will write the weed amendment’s enabling legislation (set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021), and the white corporate types who intend to monopolize the weed market. They will ice guys like NJWeedman, and the street level guys who’ve dealt marijuana from barber shops, bodegas and small restaurants in cities around the state. This will happen through the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, or CRC, set up by the state Legislature.

“They’re going to write the law and they’re going to pick who gets licenses,” he said. “They’ve already paid off the politicians.

“I call it ‘Caucasian-acceptable marijuana.’ They’ll give people licenses to sell it, but anybody else, me, anyone else selling it, is still gonna be illegal. So if you get caught with a bottle of weed” – he held up a medical pill bottle with weed in it – “and it doesn’t come from one of them places, it’s unregulated, and you still get arrested.

“Rich guys (in Trenton) writing laws for rich white guys. That’s what they’re getting ready to do. The rich white guys are going to be a monopoly. They’re the cannabis corporations, the cartels. They’re creating this right on top of the existing black market, which they should legalize, too. It’s all being set up for the Walmarts of weed, cannabaggers, I call them. They have no intention of including the little guys.

“Actually, I don’t really care if they have Walmarts of weed. They can have them, too. I already have a booming business, but under the law, my business should be legal, too. But I can’t even put my name on an application (to sell weed) because I’m a felon in the state of New Jersey. That’s the position I find myself in. So, I voted no.”

He’ll still sell weed from his shop. He knows he could be raided and arrested at any time. He’s unfazed.

Red light. He looked at the rear-view mirror.

“There’s a cop right over here, behind us. He’s taking pictures,” he said. “I gotta give him this.”

He pressed the fogger button and the machine hissed and clouds of stage smoke flowed from the Weedmobile, drifting over the cop’s car.

“He’s laughing and now he’s looking at his camera,” Forchion said.

The light changed. Ed took off, engine roaring, still looking in the mirror.

“Ok, now he’s riding with us and videotaping us with his phone. You know what? He’s gonna go back to his office and say, ‘I saw Weedman!’”

He laughed as we headed down a highway. He looked over and asked, “You know who I am?”

Who, Ed?

“I’m the Robinhood of Reefer. It’s true. You know what I’ve been through. Remember all those years ago when I was telling you I was un-convictable? I am. And it’s because I have the support of the public. You know, Robinhood got away with a lot of stuff because he had the support of the people. He was the people’s champ. I feel the same way. It takes 12 to convict, and I don’t believe I can be convicted. It’s just weed.”

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Columnist JD Mullane can be reached at 215-949-5745 or at [email protected]

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