Weedman suing Trenton and running for Congress — all from jail
TRENTON — As he sits behind bars awaiting a new trial on witness tampering charges, Edward "NJ Weedman" Forchion is preparing to run for Congress while also suing the capital city for blocking his attempt to run for mayor.
Forchion found out on Monday that jury selection for his second trial will start early next month. He said that while he is currently behind bars, that should not have been reason for Trenton Municipal Clerk Dwayne Harris to prevent him from running. In a lawsuit filed against Harris, he said the clerk obstructed his potential run by not providing him the proper petitions in a timely manner.
"Even though I am jailed and detained under the bail reform act, I'm not convicted of any crime and I'm registered to vote," Forchion said.
Last year, Forchion was found not guilty of one count of witness tampering, while a second charge ended in a hung jury. The detainment and charges he was facing stem from a narcotics raid of his restaurant. Police say Forchion put an informant at risk by sharing his name on social media. Forchion claims he never intended to intimidate the informant with his posts.
His effort to run for mayor started in January when he said he wrote a letter to Harris asking him for an election packet. While he got most of the packet returned in the mail, Forchion said there was no petition. In his response, Harris told Forchion that because he was ineligible to vote he could not run for office, a point which Forchion said he quickly corrected the clerk.
"I wrote him back and said no, I'm detained. I'm not on parole or probation and I haven't been convicted of anything. I'm not serving a sentence, I'm just detained, so I can run for office," he said.
Not only would Harris not give Forchion the petitions directly or through email, but he also would not give them to volunteers who could have gotten him the information, according to the marijuana activist.
It wasn't until Feb. 22 that he said he finally worked out an arrangement to get the petitions, but by that point it was just 10 days before the filing deadline, he said.
"In my suit I say that had he just given me at least one petition back in January then I would have made it," he said. "As it turned out we got 47 signatures turned in on time. We got other signatures, but they didn't make it on time. I only had 10 days where all the other candidates had months."
Forchion is no stranger to election law as he has run for one office or another for the better part of two decades. While he has not won any of the races, he said it is "my way of expressing my freedom of expression," and his "way of protesting the government."
"You have a right to redress your grievances. This is my way of doing it," he said. " People have known that I run for everything. I don't even really expect to win. This is a right that any American has and for him to restrict me because he doesn't like the fact that I'm doing it from jail, or maybe because I'm so popular and maybe I threaten the candidate that he chooses, he's supposed to remain neutral."
In contrast to his experience with the city, Forchion said he sent a letter to the clerk at the Department of Elections and asked for ballot petitions to run for the U.S. Congress seat in District 12. He said he got that paperwork in a matter of days and plans to submit enough petitions to get on the ballot.
"I did the exact same thing, and that clerk did not block it," he said. "Maybe she already read and heard all of my arguments already, I don't know."
He said the notary public at the jail signed off on the petitions and that they were mailed in to make him a candidate under the Legalize Marijuana Party.
Now as he fights to win the lawsuit against the city, represent himself in the criminal trial, and run for Congress, Forchion said he is plenty busy behind bars. He said he is in the law library everyday and has "paperwork and documents everywhere."
"I've always been like this," he said. "I talk, I write, I complain."
A spokesman for the city of Trenton said they "do not comment on litigation."
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