By Emma Califano Correspondent
Political science professor and local Assemblyman Reed Gusciora’s “Politics of Marijuana” class welcomed Ed Forchion, a well-known advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Some people might better know him as N.J. Weedman.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, in the Social Science Building, Forchion made a special appearance to tell his journey toward supporting the legalization of marijuana.
It all started when Forchion was arrested on November 24, 1997, in Belmar, N.J., when he was pulled over and the arresting officer found a pound of weed in the back of his car. Forchion was also indicted for trying to ship 40 pounds of marijuana from Arizona to New Jersey via FedEx. He faced 20 years in prison, but was able to take a plea deal and received a drastically reduced sentence.
“Here I was, getting arrested on marijuana charges — a plant — by people who smelled like cigarettes, and I thought to myself, why is this worse?” Forchion asked.
Forchion claims to use marijuana for his asthma and bone cancer, which creates tumors throughout his body that need to periodically be surgically removed. Now he acts as an advocate for the legalization of marijuana and hopes that one day the drug will be treated similarly to alcohol.
He also addressed the issue of long-term drug sentences in prisons and his opinion on them.
“My first cellmate was a murderer who was in for 35 years,” Forchion said. “I didn’t belong there at all. I was terrified. All I ever did was smoke pot.”
Forchion said the benefit of using marijuana is that it prevents people from becoming hooked on pharmaceuticals, such as oxycodone. When he was released from prison, Forchion moved to Los Angeles where he opened his own dispensary and legally sold marijuana for four years. There, he was able to help many people who suffered from ailments similar to his own.
“People try to monitor marijuana when it is not their place to do so,” Forchion said. “This is my body. My body alone. And anything I put into my body is my own business.”
When campaigning for the legalization of marijuana, Forchion uses media attention as his style of activism. He has appeared in many newspapers for his works, has written three books about his journey and future goals and even attempted to legally change his name to njweedman.com for publicity purposes.