Pot advocate relocates to California

February 20, 2006

Richard Pearsall, Courier-Post (NJ)

Weedman, aka Ed Forchion, has left New Jersey for Southern California and a job selling marijuana for medical purposes.

"I feel like I left the police state and found freedom here," the former Browns Mills resident and longtime advocate for legalized marijuana said Monday from outside the medical marijuana club where he said he works. "This is like a reward for being a fighter."

Forchion, 41, launched his drive to legalize marijuana in New Jersey in 1997 after he was arrested and charged with possession of the drug with intent to distribute.

Since then he has:

Spent 17 months in Riverfront State Prison on the distribution conviction and another five months in Burlington County Jail for making pro-marijuana commercials after he was paroled.

Run for Congress, the state Legislature, the Burlington County freeholder board and governor as the candidate of the Legalize Marijuana Party.

Staged numerous demonstrations to call attention to his cause, including one "light up" on the floor of the General Assembly and another by the Liberty Bell.

It was a battle over child custody, not marijuana, that precipitated his move to California, he said Monday.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. "The Burlington County Family Court took away my parental rights.

"Instead of judging me as a dad, they judged me on what I talk about," he said.

Never one to duck an issue, Forchion isn't worried his notoriety as a marijuana advocate could lead to trouble in his new job.

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, but the measure has been challenged in court, and some see it as a thinly disguised move to make the drug available generally.

He's working at a club with about 500 members, he said, in Woodland Hills, a short drive from Hollywood.

Members come with recommendations from their physicians that they use marijuana, not prescriptions.

Forchion said he hopes to bring his wife and three other children to California by this summer.

He'll miss the people in New Jersey, he said.

"But not the bail payments."

Reach Richard Pearsall at (856) 486-2465 or rpearsall@courierpostonline.com

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