Did senator set up the raid at Weedman’s Joint? What senator says about ‘lunatic’
Despite NJ Weedman's claims that last week's raid on his Trenton business was orchestrated by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), the state lawmaker denied the marijuana advocate's claims, calling him a "raving lunatic."
Last week, heavily-armed police raided Ed Forchion's restaurant and pot temple across the street from the Statehouse. Forchion, who goes by the name NJ Weedman, was arrested along with 10 other people. Authorities say the raid netted $19,000 in suspected marijuana.
Speaking on the Deminski and Doyle show on NJ 101.5 Tuesday, Forchion said he's been alleging that the raid was orchestrated by Lesniak's office. In February, Forchion said, the pot temple became the focus of a federal civil rights lawsuit that he filed after his shop was issued violations claiming that it was open past the city's curfew. Forchion, however, claims the ordinance violates his religious liberties since the pot temple is a religious establishment.
The city of Trenton is being defended in the suit by Lesniak's law firm.
Lesniak contends that his firm had nothing to do with the April 27 raid on Weedman's Joint.
"I think he's been smoking too much weed. These are the rantings of a raving lunatic," Lesniak told NJ 101.5. "Weedman’s comings and goings are not at the top of my list of things to pay attention to."
Forchion said he further believes the raid was retaliatory because the lawsuit added to the animosity between himself and the city. He said he had installed a $10,000 security system in his restaurant and in an effort to make a reality television show. He used the cameras to take video of police harassing him and posting the footage to YouTube. Forchion said when the raid happened, police targeted and confiscated those cameras.
Moving forward, Forchion says he plans to fight the charges against him and he wants the case to go to a jury trial.
"I really and truly believe I am conviction-proof on this. I am taking it to a jury. I don't want the prosecutor to try to bribe me with some plea of leniency. I want a jury trial as is my right," Forchion told Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle during Tuesday's show.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.