Each day, when he arrived at the Burlington County courthouse in Mount Holly, Ed Forchion, aka “NJWeedman,” was chipper. He knew a jury could put him away for five years for possessing a pound of pot. He made a prediction: “I will have a thoroughly hung jury.” Bold. He spent his courthouse time chatting, doing press interviews by phone, posing for pictures with fans, and cracking wise with prosecutor Michael Luciano, who is not crackable. Forchion is blessed with an abundance of self-confidence, so much that he insisted on representing himself in court, and managed to test the patience of the New Jersey judiciary’s embodiment of forbearance, Judge Charles Delehey. Forchion never denied the weed, which was the size of a large brick, was his. But he said it was “medicinal marijuana.” He’s a resident of California, where pot can be legally prescribed for medical reasons. He has a state-issued medical card to prove it. “You heard the testimony from Dr. Finichel — I have giant cell tumors,” Forchion said, pointing to his right knee. “I don’t pop Tylenol. I twist one and smoke.” Even if he didn’t have medical issues, Forchion said he would still smoke marijuana, which he has done since he was 14. “A little weed never hurt anyone,” he said. “Seriously, I don’t think people realize how important this case is,” he said during a break in testimony this week. “There is a whole culture — the cannabis-consuming community — who are watching this thing, and watching me.” He likes the media attention, and the media, generally, likes him. (He has a direct line to the studio of New Jersey 101.5, the state’s local talk radio powerhouse, where he is a regular guest.) The Discovery Channel has approached him for a reality TV show, he said. Facebook, Twitter and NJWeedman.com all carry the news and spread the word about him. “I am a cyber celebrity, if I may say so myself,” he said. He grew up in Sicklerville, served in three branches of the military, and has five children. He worked as a long-haul trucker, which led him west in the 1990s, and he settled in California. He was the proprietor of a medical marijuana shop in south central Los Angeles. He lived well, selling and growing weed, and throwing “bong and thong” parties in Hollywood.
“I know how to have a good time. Everybody knows the Weedman,” he said. But then came April 1, 2010. He was home in New Jersey visiting his family. He had a pound of pot in his rental car. He was in Mount Holly on Route 38 at a red light when he saw a state police car. Nervously, he went through the light. This drew the cop’s attention. “Busted — and on April Fool’s Day, of all days,” Forchion said, chuckling. A grand jury indicted him for possession and intent to deliver. No matter. He’d fight. He would represent himself and make his case to a jury. His goal was to use the case as a referendum on the hodgepodge of conflicting state medical marijuana laws. “In California, I’m a patient. In New Jersey, I’m a criminal,” he said. But Judge Delehey would have none of it. To the state, it was a simple case of possession. Prosecutor Luciano told the jury that Forchion was a “charlatan” and a “wolf in hemp clothing.” Forchion told them: “I call myself a peaceful, proud, patriotic pothead.” Three days and three witnesses later, it was unclear if Forchion actually intended to sell the pot. The arresting officer testified that Forchion had no measuring scale, baggies, envelopes, customer list or ledger — all items routinely found on weed dealers. The pot was wrapped and in Forchion’s luggage, next to his mail and other personal effects. On Wednesday, the jury found him guilty of possession, but was hung on the more serious charge of intent to distribute. Judge Delehey declared a mistrial. Forchion will be retried May 22. “Well,” Forchion said as he waited for an elevator, “now I’m stuck here in New Jersey, and broke. I was hoping I’d get somebody (on the jury) who would say no to all of the charges. I want to get back to my life. I want to get back to California. “Yeah, I’d open another weed shop. What would I call it? How about ‘Luciano’s Place.’ That’s a good name, don’t you think?” He laughed at that, then left the courthouse to get high.
via : Philly Burbs
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