“NJ Weedman” Trial Postponed
Dedicated marijuana lover/activist Ed Forchion, aka “NJ Weedman”—subject of last week’s PW cover story—will have to wait a little longer to find out whether he can beat the system or if he has to head to the pokey for at least a few years. Forchion’s trial on possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, stemming from a traffic stop last April in Mt. Holly, N.J., during which police discovered a pound of primo weed in the trunk of his car, was supposed to get under way at the Burlington County courthouse this week. But yesterday, Judge Charles Delehey postponed the proceedings until April 2012 so that Forchion can have surgery to remove bone tumors from his leg. Tumors that Forchion says he’s been treating with medicinal marijuana back in California (where he’s been living for the past three years), and which he planned to tell the jury about in the hopes of evoking sympathy and either an acquittal (via his jury nullification strategy) or a mistrial.
But before yesterday’s pre-trial hearing was adjourned, Delehey also ruled—based on that jury nullification defense strategy, which many judges consider “anarchy”—that Forchion could not represent himself in his upcoming trial and assigned him a public defender. “[The] judge made a real mistake and removed me from representing myself when I said I was going to tell the jurors the truth about marijuana in my opening statement,” Forchion tells PW.
Forchion says that the ruling violates his Sixth Amendment rights because the public defender refuses to subpoena witnesses—such as Forchion’s doctor, and N.J. lawmakers behind the state’s recent medical marijuana law—who could testify in Forchion’s favor. Forchion believes this could provide the basis for an appeal down the line.
“I guess only kangaroo court convictions allowed,” says Forchion. “The judge removed me because I will probably get a mistrial. This is supposed to be America.”
Forchion is facing up to 12 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of as much as five years before he’s eligible for parole.