Earlier this summer, we reported on cannabis activist NJ Weedman aka Ed Forchion’s legal battles in his home state of New Jersey. Forchion and the Fully Informed Jury Association have been doing jury nullification outreach in response to his case and others like it.
Now, NJ Weedman is making local headlines again, this time to speak out against civil asset forfeiture after his “Weedmobile” was destroyed. Weedman’s van was a 1986 Ford E-150 that featured a colorful, controversial portrait of him blowing smoke into Uncle Sam’s face. Forchion used the van as an advertisement for his restaurant and ‘cannabis temple’ and as a protest against New Jersey marijuana laws that he calls ‘hypocritical’.
Trenton police called Forchion’s weedmobile an “irritant”, and it was reduced to a hunk of metal. After police raided his restaurant and temple earlier this year, the weedmobile and delivery truck were seized under New Jersey’s civil forfeiture law, which allows authorities to take property they believe was used to commit a crime. Weedman planned to pick up the van, but says that due to police misinformation, he was unaware of the process he had to go through to do so. Law enforcement also seized a reported $19,000 worth of cannabis from Forchion and arrested 11 people in the raid.
In a recent report, the Institute for Justice rated New Jersey’s civil asset forfeiture laws a D minus, which is one of the worst of such ratings in the nation. The report noted that county prosecutors took in more than $72 million in forfeitures from 2009 to 2013.
Forchion said the old van wasn’t worth selling but had sentimental value to him because of his portrait on the side of the vehicle. To NJ Weedman, the destruction of his weedmobile has come to be a symbol of cannabis prohibition and the enforcement of unjust laws that comes along with keeping a plant medicine illegal.
“It’s symbolic of the harassment I’ve been receiving for the last few months,” Forchion told The Trentonian. “It was done illegally. I think it was done personally and it was done with spite in their hearts. I’m not a rapist, a robber, a murder. I just smoke weed. The law’s wrong, not me. Twenty-six states have disregarded the federal government’s marijuana laws. I find it hypocritical that the state of New Jersey is violating federal law by having dispensaries but also prosecuting me.”
As his case continues to unfold, Forchion says he will also be suing Trenton police over what he is calling a ‘false arrest.’