‘Weedman’ sells pot in front of Murphy’s office … cops look on
TRENTON — Ed Forchion, the activist best known as NJ Weedman, sold marijuana in front of the temporary offices of Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday as State Police officers stood by and declined to arrest him.
Wearing an orange prison jump suit with "Mercer County Corrections Center" printed on the back, Forchion set up table and began selling plants and jars of weed from a folding-card table, according to video by photojournalist Brian McCarthy.
A journalist working with New Jersey 101.5 described Forchion blowing smoke in the officer's face, though Forchion denied that during a call into Deminski and Doyle on New Jersey 101.5 on Friday afternoon.
The governor's office was moved from the Statehouse as part of a renovation project in that section of the building.
Standing next to a State Police office, Weedman tried to light up a marijuana cigarette in front of a sign for the governor's office. As reporters and others watched, one of the officers told everyone to move back, but did not make an arrest.
One of the officers told NorthJersey.com that they did not want to be part of Forchion's "event."
The officer then tried directing Forchion to a marijuana-related rally at the State House Annex which he said he was not part of. A friend tried to get Forchion to move but he refused said his message for the governor was that that "black people want to sell marijuana too."
Senate president Steve Sweeney later on Thursday said he has scheduled a vote on Oct. 29 on a bill that has not yet been introduced in committee. Two issues have yet to be worked out, but he did not disclose the issues.
During an appearance on New Jersey 101.5 last week, Sweeney said that the tax on marijuana was still under discussion. One proposal set the rate at 10 percent, according to Sweeney, while Murphy wanted a rate of 25 percent.
In an email sent Tuesday, Ed Forchion challenged the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office — specifically county Prosecutor Angelo Onofri and two of the prosecutors on ihs team — to arrest him for selling marijuana.
"I think im UNCONVICTABLE and i'm totally down on RUBBING your faces in it and proving it a 3rd time. ( IM A TRUE BELIEVER IN JURY NULLIFICATION ) and I know thats really why you F***ERS locked me up for nearly 16 months. Im about to show the world about JURY NULLIFICATION," he wrote.
Forchion CC'd New Jersey 101.5 on the message. It's quoted with only profanity censored. The punctuation and spellings quoted are his. It continues: "....Im going to start selling WEED like the 'WHITE GUYS' and I dare ( i hope actually) you to arrest me and prosecute me again, since you chickened out on the MARIJUANA CASE YOU INDICTED ME FOR A STOLEN MY POSSESIONS. What jury will find me GUILTY. NONE."
Forchion has faced off against police and prosecutors multiple times. Most recently, Forchion had been facing numerous drug-dealing charges stemming from a March 2016 raid on his restaurant and, as he describes it, "marijuana temple," located across the street from Trenton City Hall.
The trial on those counts had been put on hold after prosecutors last year slapped him with witness tampering charges. He was found not guilty on those charges during trials in November and last month and eventually released from jail after more than a year.
In June, prosecutors dropped remaining charges, citing the changing political climate on marijuana law.
Getting a jury to return a not-guilty verdict based on their belief that a law is unjust is a concept known as jury nullification — and judges in New Jersey don't allow defendants to instruct juries to do this. But Forchion has fought the law before and won. He defended himself in a 2012 trial on drug-dealing charges but was found not guilty after a retrial.
In 2003 he convinced a federal judge to release him from prison after he was jailed for advocating marijuana law reforms, which officials claimed violated his parole. Forchion had pleaded guilty in 2000 to drug dealing charges after he and his brother picked up a 40-pound package of marijuana that had been shipped by FedEx. Forchion was sentenced to 10 years but was released on parole after 16 months.
With reporting by Brian McCarthy.