TRENTON – And like that, poof, he’s gone.

Marijuana activist Edward Forchion, better known as NJWeedman, dropped his independent candidacy for governor during an administrative law hearing Tuesday in which Democrats were on the verge of having him removed from the race for not having enough valid signatures on his petition.

Candidates are required to have at least 800 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify as an independent candidate for governor. Forchion filed last week with 836 signatures – a narrow margin for error that left him vulnerable to a challenge.

The New Jersey Democratic State Committee said Forchion didn’t correctly follow the state’s process for gathering electronic signatures on his online petition and cited signatures that did not match voter records and other missing information.

The New Jersey Globe reported that Forchion ended a 90-minute hearing in an administrative law court by announcing he would withdraw his candidacy and instead seek support as a write-in candidate.

“I can’t compete with the power of the Democratic Party,” Forchion told Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Rabin, according to the Globe. “I’m about to smoke some weed.”

Forchion smoked marijuana from a bong during the hearing and tweeted a photo about it.

“He left the hearing in a cloud of smoke,” Rabin said. “I am accepting his withdrawal.”

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In addition to Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican former assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, there will be three third-party candidates on the November ballot: Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party, Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party and Gregg Mele of the Libertarian Party.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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