After stealing and destroying his ‘weed mobile’ back in August, city officials in Trenton, NJ recently tried to hit Edward Forchion, aka NJ Weedman, in another place that hurt – this time attempting to shut down his place of business. City Clerk Richard Kachmar last week sent a letter to Forchion informing him that his business license was revoked due to violations of staying open past 11 p.m.
The violation claimed to be in accordance with a residential ordinance that says businesses have to close at 11 p.m. Forchion’s Liberty Bell Cannabis Temple, Stash Spot and Joint are located in a business zone though, not a residential zone. Forchion appealed the revocation and won. Surprisingly, Kachmar admitted he was wrong, in an underhanded bureaucrat sort of way.
“I accepted the appeal and gave him a stay on his license so he’s allowed to open and operate until a hearing can be scheduled before council for the suspension and/or revocation,” Kachmar told The Trentonian. The judge will make a ruling on November 2nd.
I had the chance to have a conversation of my own with NJ Weedman.
“This all started after I slammed the door in an officer’s face after an argument. At first I talked to them, but once they threatened and harassed me, I was done. There was no warrant. That’s my fourth amendment right to be secure in my person and property. For seven months now, Trenton police have had personal vendetta against me,” Forchion told The Marijuana Times.
After that, he says he became a target for police. He says they sent a confidential informant in to buy a small amount of weed after he made a $300 donation to his church.
“I operate a church, a head shop and a restaurant. People might share weed while they’re here, but that’s about it. I do not sell weed here, because this is not a dispensary, and I don’t want to go to prison. I told him that, but he kept pressing me to share. To me that is a classic case of entrapment,” Forchion continued.
Following that, 21 police officers dressed in tactical gear, armed with shotguns and accompanied by a K9 raided his business in April of this year. On top of that, he says his customers and clients have been verbally abused and threatened by police. Weedman says he has videos of some of this on his YouTube channel.
“Normal people are scared to come to my restaurant. The restaurant is in place to generate revenue for my church and chill spot. The police have scared away my clients and my customers,” he said.
In their report after the raid, police claimed to have found $19,000 worth of marijuana. Forchion says it was more like $900 worth, at the most, all for personal use. In addition to stealing his van and his food delivery car, they took his $10,000 camera system; his hard drives containing several terabytes of data along with other equipment from his business.
“Trenton Police officers claimed that 30 people were fighting outside here. That’s a flat out lie. No one has ever been fighting here. There are a lot of people out there committing real crimes: like murdering, assaulting, stealing. From day one, I’ve been about peace and love. They can keep their problems out there. People can come here and chill,” Weedman said.
Forchion champions the removal of the age-old stigma associated with cannabis use.
“Cannabis has now gone mainstream. Cannabis use should not be kept in dark back alleys anymore. People know that the end of prohibition is coming. I am not doing back alley deals, nor am I hiding. I am right out in the open, right across from city hall. When I opened in May of 2015, everyone knew who I was. I got worldwide coverage from outlets like the Wall Street Journal,” he said.
Forchion says he plays to continue to operate his restaurant, accessory shop and cannabis temple.
“I was always right. The police were wrong,” Forchion concluded.
During his seven-month clash with Trenton police, Weedman has been issued 20 tickets for being open past 11 p.m. and 15 tickets for random, unimportant infractions. As his ongoing saga with Trenton police continues to unfold, Forchion has made no hesitation to exercise his freedom of speech. Doing so has recently caught him yet another charge, this time for allegedly ‘cyberbullying’ a Trenton officer that Weedman says is a pedophile. While it’s certainly not advisable to taunt police on or offline, mere speech of any kind is a constitutionally protected right of every American.