Anyone who lives in New Jersey knows the sites and sounds of the Garden State, from Bruce Springsteen to full serve-only gas stations to the New Jersey Weedman. Ed Forchion, otherwise known as NJWeedman, has been a staple on the New Jersey scene, known for his cannabis activism and bright personality.
According to a statement released last week, Forchion, who’s running for Congress this November, has filed a lawsuit in Mercer County Superior Court against Gov. Phil Murphy and the NJ Division of Elections, alleging that his party’s name has been illegal left off of the ballot. NJWeedman is running in the state’s 12th District under the Legalize Marijuana Party. The lawsuit argues that Gov. Murphy not only intentionally left the party name off of the ballot, but did so “ in a deliberate attempt to deny him potential pro-legalization votes.”
As per Forchion’s statement, he’s been running for various offices in the state since 1998, all under the Legalize Marijuana Party. Because of this, he finds it difficult to believe that it was anything but intentional that the Gov. removed the party name from the ballot. In lieu of the Legalize Marijuana Party, the ballot will read “No Slogan Chosen.”
“Did somebody think I would get too many votes using that slogan? I don’t know,” Forchion said in a statement. “They claimed it was an accident and that I’d have to get a judge’s order to have it put on the ballot! This is nefarious. This is egregious.”
“The state election office could have corrected its own mistake,” he continued. “Instead I was told to file a lawsuit, as only a judge could amend the ballot. So I did.”
Oral arguments in the lawsuit were heard by Judge Mary C. Jacobson of Mercer County on September 3.
Forchion has fought for the legalization of cannabis for over three decades. According to his biography, he’s one of the first Black activists in the movement, dating back to the 1990s. He also spent over 1200 days in prison fighting for legalization.
More recently, he launched an Instagram Live series called “Get on the CannaBus with NJWeedman.” According to him, new laws criminalize small growers and sellers, while big corporations continue to profit from the marijuana trade. His new series accompanies a new act of civil disobedience, where he’ll encourage illicit market sales of cannabis using the hashtag #SellingWeedLikeImWhite.
“What is happening in New Jersey is nothing short of a travesty of justice and an example of systemic racism,” said Forchion, according to MG Magazine. “I of course support the legalization of marijuana. What I don’t support is the current guise of deceit and manipulation under which it is being done. Since the 90’s, state officials have been pushing the war on drugs and targeting marijuana users in that war. Now these former and current state officials are part of the scheme to steal the marijuana industry from disenfranchised People of Color and hand it over to a few white corporate guys, openly excluding those who have been in this ‘illegal industry’ for decades. Basically, it is white men making laws to legalize other rich white men and to continue to exclude and criminalize everyone else for the same plant.”