NJ Weedman arrives in New Jersey from his Calif. home for his trial on pot charges

Edward Forchion in Mount Holly in 2004. The Weedman has returned to New Jersey to face charges of marijuana possession. Associated Press, File
Edward Forchion in Mount Holly in 2004. The Weedman has returned to New Jersey to face charges of marijuana possession. Associated Press, File (Edward Forchion)
Posted: April 06, 2012

With much fanfare, the man who calls himself NJ Weedman left his California home last month in a painted hippie van and headed to New Jersey for his much-publicized trial on marijuana charges.

Along the way, Edward Forchion, a marijuana-legalization activist, issued invitations via Twitter urging sympathetic protesters to "occupy my courtroom" in Mount Holly on Tuesday. That's when his trial was scheduled in state Superior Court.

Now, the trial has been delayed. But as of Wednesday, Forchion - in New Jersey, yet apparently unaware of the postponement - was still tweeting that "the most important marijuana case/trial is set to begin on April 10."

On Thursday, he alerted his Twitter followers to a New Jersey 101.5 radio interview scheduled to air next week, but he could not be reached for comment.

Forchion, 47, a former Pemberton resident, chronicled his cross-country trip with YouTube videos and photos, and used social media to beg supporters in Nevada, Colorado, and Ohio for gas money.

Burlington County courts spokeswoman Donna Mazzanti struggled Thursday to explain the postponement. Two high-profile cases - Forchion's and that of Robert Melia Jr., a former Moorestown police officer charged with sexual assaults - were slated to begin Tuesday morning before the same judge, Charles Delehey.

"I don't know what happened," she said.

Forchion's trial has been pushed back two or three weeks, or "probably to the first week of May," Mazzanti said.

Joel Bewley, spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office, said Forchion was expected in court next week to discuss a new trial date.

At a hearing in January, Forchion - who plans to represent himself at trial - promised the judge that he would not argue that marijuana laws should be decriminalized. Delehey warned Forchion that he would not allow him to go without a lawyer if he intended to ask the jury to decide whether the laws were just.

But in YouTube videos posted during his trip, Forchion outlined his defense in broad terms: "I want my jurors to judge the law as well as the facts. . . . The law itself, in my opinion, is wrong," he said.

Court rules do not permit the defense to put a law on trial, Delehey said. If Forchion dares to use this strategy, the judge said, he would stop him.

Forchion left Los Angeles on March 20 and planned to be in New Jersey in time for his trial. He didn't want authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest, he said.

Four years ago, Forchion had moved west to open a medical marijuana dispensary, which was shut down in December. When he visited family and friends in Mount Holly on April 1, 2010, he was arrested by a state trooper who stopped him for a traffic violation and allegedly discovered a pound of marijuana in Forchion's car trunk.

Forchion was charged with possession of the drug with intent to distribute.

He said he planned to argue that he possessed the drug for his medicinal use and had no plans to sell it. He said he carries a card issued by California that allows him to use marijuana to ease the pain from benign bone tumors in a leg and his shoulders.

Last year, Forchion made news when he mailed Gov. Christie, a Burlington County prosecutor, and several other government officials small vials containing marijuana seeds. With the vials were messages saying that the drug should be decriminalized.


Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224, jhefler@ phillynews.com, or @JanHefler on Twitter. Read her blog at www.philly.com/BurlcoBuzz.

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