The REAL ISSUE for NJ Weedman

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We’ve read about the NJ Weedman trial. We’ve giggled at the attention-getting “Weedmobil.” The NJ Weedman even used to smoke at Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, a federal property, hoping to attract and engage the federal system and eventually be heard by the Supreme Court about marijuana legalization. He named his marijuana dispensary in California the “Liberty Bell Temple.” Now, he’s accused of being a charlatan and carrying a crutch for no reason. Is the state of New Jersey now just punishing Ed Forchion, the Pemberton native who wanted to legally change his name to, for being such a public advocate for marijuana use: medical, spiritual AND social?

The fact is that Robert Edward Forchion is a card-carrying California state medical marijuana patient without medical insurance. And although New Jersey passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, there is no formal program here yet and Forchion can’t even mention our medical marijuana act in court, or that the act covers patients with chronic pain from cancer, which is what the tumors he has will become if left untreated. Isn’t this a violation of civil rights?

Hmmm. Let’s back up a minute.

What Forchion has are Giant Cell Tumors (GCT). There’s a long, unpronounceable Latin name for them too. They’re very rare bone tumors. He found the first one in 1999 or 2000. Most of the time they’re benign, but if left untreated for a long time — like his are — they will turn cancerous with a 10 percent mortality rate.

“With all the publicity I’ve been getting over the years, I didn’t want to put my personal medical business out there. I’ve been forced to bring it all out because of this court case. I had my first tumor operation in 2001. If I had healthcare insurance, these last tumors would have been taken out two years ago,” he says. “Right now, I have a big one in my right knee that causes me problems. I have another one in my left shoulder and two in my right shoulder. I can’t lift my right arm over my head. It’s not hereditary, and nobody knows what causes them.”

A former athlete, Forchion began having pain in his knee in the late 90s and thought it was an old football injury. So he naively just stopped playing ball, and didn’t see about it right away. But during a prior prison stint for possession, a time when he wasn’t smoking weed of course, the little bit of pain he felt became a huge, piercing knot on his knee the size of a golf ball. In just two months. The prison nurses gave him aspirin believing he was making excuses to leave his cell. Enter Dr. Steven Fenichel, a fellow medical marijuana advocate and Board Certified family physician Forchion met while supporting the medical marijuana cause. Dr. Fenichel visited Forchion in prison and examined the knee he was having problems with. Once looking at the tumor, he made a huge fuss to the prison doctors and to the NJ Department of Corrections, because the condition is serious. And things started happening. Forchion saw an oncologist, and then finally came a diagnosis in the Spring of 2001 and surgery that August. He feels lucky to know Dr. Fenichel, much less to have him visit the prison in 2001 and really champion his cause. Today, Dr. Fenichel learns if he can be called as an expert witness for Forchion’s current possession trial.

“In my residency at JFK Medical Center, I was looking after a young man with curable testicular cancer who couldn’t tolerate the chemotherapy treatments necessary. He got so violently and wrenchingly sick that he refused any more courses of chemo. And because none of the legal medicines helped, someone got him some medical marijuana, which allowed him to complete the chemo treatments. I got very interested after that,” says Dr. Fenichel, a dermatology specialist living in Ocean City. “I attended meetings about the medical uses of marijuana. I met Cheryl Miller, a NJ multiple sclerosis patient who has since passed away, but who — because she couldn’t smoke — mixed marijuana into her salad dressing and saw a dramatic decrease in her muscle spasms and severe pain. Plus she didn’t like the effect of the Valium and narcotic analgesic drugs she was prescribed. So I reviewed Rob’s (Forchion’s) case, and when I saw the tumor developing, I got involved,” he says.

Forchion’s journey includes seeking charity treatment through several facilities, first the Bob Hope Health Center in Los Angeles, CA, which actually never responded to his requests, then Kaiser Permanente Hospital, beginning the x-rays, MRIs and bone scans required for treatment. Costs were sky high (a couple hundred thousand bucks) and the hospital’s business office, even while credible physicians there agreed to treat him, made the decision to deny Forchion further treatment. Then he visited the USC Medical Center and was passed around from doctor to doctor feeling like a guinea pig. Finally, the day before this second surgery at USC, a Dr. Henrifar with a practice called Sarcoma Oncology Center in Santa Monica, CA, called him with an offer to add him to a drug study using an experimental drug called Denosumab. Forchion was thrilled.

“Having a piece of your bone removed hurts,” Forchion says. “Not only did (doctors) take the tumor from my leg, they took a part of my pelvis: bone shavings to replace the part of my knee that was removed. I was off my feet for a month and a half.  I was in constant pain. I’ve resisted doing that all over again,” he says about the decision to enter the Denosumab study.

Denosumab is a GCT treatment that allows patients to avoid those debilitating surgeries. Originally designed to treat women with osteoporosis, Denosumab is a bone hardener, called ‘experimental’ because the FDA only approved it for use in the treatment of osteoporosis, but it just so happened to shrink bone tumors of women with osteoporosis during initial clinical trials. Finally a break. If only Forchion could be there to participate.

“The obstacle is that we have a prison industrial complex that trades on Wall Street for profit. And you can’t get profitability unless you fill the prisons. And the largest filler is the non-violent drug offender,” Dr. Fenichel says. “America has the noble distinction of having the highest per capita incarceration rate of any nation in the world, including Russia, China and Iraq. And it’s people like Ed Forchion. Fortunately, Ed’s public defender, Mr. Ackerman, is a fine gentleman and a real giant of a man. Maybe not in stature, but in character and quality. He’s doing what he can to help him including reading a statement to the court about the right, in the state of NJ’s constitution for juries to decide not just whether a law has been broken, but whether it’s a just or an unjust law.”

Of course, marijuana being on the federal list of what the government describes as “Schedule One” drugs, including opiates, cocaine, hallucinogenics, etc. is a bunch of straight bullshit. The designation implies that there are no real or valuable medical uses of the drug. We all know that ain’t true. If smoking or eating a weed brownie can make an MS patient more comfortable, give an arthritis patient some relief from stiffness or settle the stomach of a cancer patient going through chemo, what’s the problem, especially when there’s a law on the books here called the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act?

This is a health issue. Even if the patient is a pothead, a California marijuana dispensary owner and a former drug offender the State of New Jersey just wants to throw in prison. Another number. It’s a health issue.

“It’s just going to be the greatest moment if the jury shows humanity and compassion and justice and acknowledges his legitimacy as a medical marijuana patient,” Dr. Fenichel says. “It’s valuable time lost, if they put him in prison.”

The NJ Weedman Trial may end today. Forchion will appeal a guilty verdict.

What do you think?

VIDEO: Robert Edward Forchion, The “NJ Weedman”, just after hearing news that his experimental GCT treatment has to be delayed due to his NJ marijuana possession court case. 

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Kellie Murphy

Kellie C. Murphy, Journalist: 20 years experience in traditional print journalism, digital media content and business communications. Specifically includes daily and alternative newspapers, local and regional lifestyle and consumer magazines, trade publications, consumer websites, marketing collateral for small businesses and corporate communications. Producing digital content and using clever social media marketing helps to promote client work and connect.

30 thoughts on “The REAL ISSUE for NJ Weedman”

  1. Luciano is trumping up the charges with the phoney “Intent to sell” nonsense. If you have a bottle with 500 aspirin, doesn’t mean you intend to sell them. Same thing if you have a case or two of beer.

  2. America is supposed to have trial by a jury of peers. Mr. Forchion’s peer group agrees with him that the law prohibiting acceptance of mother nature’s bounty is unjust. But jurors are disqualified if they aren’t able to make an objective determination as to if a violation of a lawfully-enacted statute happened. Jurors who feel the statute is unjust cannot be objective. They will be free to go home with no blood on their hands. Look at the size of the jury pools needed to find a panel with the right stuff.

  3. At the end of the day, many should do there history on NJ Weedman, he has a long standing history of intent to sell & sales…he has been arrested for it before for this same thing he is facing now. Its on the internet and in his book…At some point people have to think outside the box, this man is committing a crime and used the activism as a loop hole(or hope it would be)…but all that’s really doing is making all smokers look bad!!!! I smoke daily & proudly state my activism for the legalization of marijuana, but not this way!!! When your caught with a pound of marijuana in your truck knowing it was for sales, and continue to lie about it, it makes all those who worked hard to get to the point were at now, look foolish & there hard work go to waste, its an insult!!! People and kick & scream that the system isn’t doing him fair, but how about him not doing his smoker community fair. His trail here in NJ just pushed the ok for marijuana back 10 steps because he thought he was above the law and lie about it to the courts and to his commuinty of people that believed in him!!! Until people choose to do there homework and see this for what it really is, a man selling marijuana across statelines and using his Rastafarian life style & illness to get out of jail time, then by all means kick & scream unjust. At the end of the day right’s, right & wrong’s, wrong

    1. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your interest. I’ll be doing follow ups with Ed and will ask him about this opinion. Stay tuned…

    2. Shelly Nunez apparently fails to consider:
      [1] Cannabis/”Marijuana” does not cause harm to the public. has posted on their website nearly 200 medical studies supporting the medical use of Cannabis/”Marijuana”. The federal government denies Cannabis/”Marijuana” has medical use, while endorsing the pharmaceutical “Sativex”, a double-standard for the pharmaceutical industry!!
      [2] Marijuana Prohibition arose from outright lies made to Congress by Harry Anslinger, U.S. Bureau of Narcotics, a relative of the Melon family of Pennsylvania.
      [3] Marijuana laws are not cost-effective. The tax burden on the American people for enforcement of the Cannabis/”Marijuana” laws are not worth it. One of the reasons why your rent is at a high rate, and property taxes are so high, is because we have so many people voting for politicans whose interests support the 1%, which is a huge tax burden upon the poor and Middle Class Americans. LAW ENFORCEMENT is among a top priority for the 1%.
      [4] The Marijuana laws are a huge hypocrisy. Have you read about the C.I.A. airplane which crash landed in Mexico? They found two tons of Cocaine inside it and the pilots were gone!! There is a concept in the field of criminal justice known as “social justice”, meaning generally that the people will not respect the if the government is a lawbreaker.
      [5] Incarceration does not reduce crime. It only temporarily incapacitates the “offender”.

  4. If you know it in your heart! thats all you need brotha… nature will resolve the real issues. You just have to be true to yourself, and stay true, in what you believe in and fight for. GOOD LUCK my dude

  5. Bad corporations control us right now. Too many people rely exclusively upon major media and public school “education” for their information. As a result, people are voting for liberals or not voting at all. Ron Paul endeavors to stop these problems. Another term of the incumbent foreigner U.S. President will result in the loss or near loss of our country.

    N.J. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, (973) 395-1166, plans to post the mandatory water Fluoridation for a “second reading” vote on May 24, 2012, which is the next Assembly caucus meeting; but she apparently will NOT post the raw milk Bill, A. 518, for a “second reading” vote. The water Fluoridation is BAD for us,, and the raw milk is good for us,,,

    N.J. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, (Her District Office telephone number)(201) 576-9199, (Her fax number)(201) 576-9432, introduced an Industrial Hemp License Bill, A. 2415 (Introduced 2/6/2012), which was referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee. About a month ago, the Legislative Aide to Assemblyman Nelson T. Albano, (His District Office telephone number)(609) 465-0700, the Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, advised me that the sponsor of every Bill pending in the Agriculture Committee must contact Chairman Albano and ask that the particular Bill be scheduled for a debate and vote and that Asw. Wagner has not contacted Chairman Albano to schedule the Industrial Hemp Bill for a debate and vote. I called Asw. Wagner’s office as recently as this Monday to ask whether Asw. Wagner has contacted Chairman Albano for the Industrial Hemp Bill to be scheduled for a debate and vote and Asw. Wagner’s District Office employee told me the usual “I don’t know”. Would you readers please contact Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, (201) 576-9199, to voice your support for Industrial Hemp License Bill A. 2415 (2/6/2012)(the first Hemp Bill in the N.J. Legislature’s history, to the best of my knowledge), ask her to call Agriculture Committee Chairman Nelson Albano, (609) 465-0700 for A. 2415 Industrial Hemp License Bill to be scheduled for a debate and vote?

    There is a case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court coming from Montana which endeavors to overrule the bad precedent misinterpreting the interstate commerce clause, which would have the effect of preventing the federal government from interfering with State’s Rights to medical Marijuana, raw milk, and intrastate-only firearms possession.

    There is a case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court coming from Montana which endeavors to overrule the Citizens United unlimited-campaign-contributions-by-Big-Corporations case. A court decision holding corporations are not a “person” within the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would give back more power of the individual voter.

  6. Shelly your absolutely a hypocrite.
    People like you who think people deserve to goto jail for selling YOU
    Your cannabis are hypocrites and maybe it’s you who should goto jail for your recreational drug use. Just because Robert had previously had intent charges and had supported the cannabis cause doesn’t make his current medical needs and activism and medical claims false. It’s people like you that are the problem.

    If it wasn’t for th dealers breaking the unjust laws because they know the law is wrong, you wouldnt have access to your recreational drug.

    Grow up and support the cause in all forms-legal or black market….Degenerate hypocrites like you are a regular theme here on the east coast.

    If it wasn’t for the black market dealers you would never have enjoyed cannabis all your life. You owe your use to them. To say they deserve jail just shows your hypocrisy!

    Your no better than the damn cops!

  7. Shelly Nunez,

    You now nothing about me obviously! Yes I admitt to selling weed, what pothead doesn’t share with his friends. Btw – if you feel that way go rat on the dealer you illegally buy your marijuana from.

    Plus even dealers have their own stash!

    Can you tell me how I in anyway have put the marijuana movement back ten years – I say the opposite! I’m mainstream here in jersey I’ve advanced the acceptance of marijuana into the mainstream like no other activist in the country. Besides a few entertainers there is no marijuana activist in the country more mainstream than me – you keep hiding in the cannabis closet and see how far the marijuana movement gets. I’m front and center in the public on numerous fronts and the public/my peers accept me here in jersey ( google news: NJWEEDMAN ) see what pops up.

    You stay in your closet, writing unsigned emails, and letters to congressman while I continue to gain mainstream popularity with my open civil dis-obedience. Lol lol lol !!!

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  16. If someone has tumours or cancer, I would give them heroine if I knew it would help. Bureaucracy and the medical community in combination with the court system is TOO SLOW. I have no doubt that in 10 -15 years medical marijuana will no longer be an issue, but meanwhile people are suffering and we are denying them relief.
    Good job society.

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