On Sunday, February 9th, I went to visit the NJ Weedman. I’d spoken to him several times for interviews, updates on how he and his case were doing and I’d always promised to see if and how I could sell an article about him to one of the state or national publications. But we’d never met in person. The forecast called for snow and I didn’t want to get caught in a storm, but I allowed him to make me feel bad for wanting to cancel, so I drove to Sicklerville anyhow and met him at his mother’s house where he was staying.
His mom’s place is a very cozy, very cluttered suburban home. It’s filled with numerous African-American antiques and artifacts, books, knick knacks and historical mementos, including an old 1950s turquoise stove that draws the eye toward it before the front door is even shut behind you. He’s very proud of the fact that he was raised in such an educational atmosphere, and that he was taught to embrace not only his history and Black culture, but knowledge in general. He credits his mom — a very sweet lady who told me she was “working on a project” when I walked in, which was why she didn’t want to get my hands dirty — with insisting he read, read and then read some more. So we sat in a back room overlooking the yard with a switched-off TV and loads of books, and I turned on my recorder.
We began with him telling me that his knee tumor is growing again.
Ed travels once per month back to New Jersey to see his children, ranging in age from six to 28. This was what he was doing when he was busted with weed back in 2010, which led to the legal trouble that prompted me to write the first article about him and his medical issues for this blog: The Real Issue.
We also spoke about his animosity for the governor, who according to Ed, has had it out for him for 10 years, back when he was United States Attorney for New Jersey, like a witch hunt.
We talked about the New Jersey Compassionate Use Act (2010), which to date hasn’t been fully implemented although New Jerseyans voted for it and largely understand the powerful value of not only medicinal marijuana, but the cash crop potential of weed. After all, we are the Garden State. This subject led Ed to speak at length about how he sees his future. He knows he has a potentially groundbreaking case, one that can garner national attention and be used as an example for other states in America to develop their own compassionate use laws.
“I have the perfect college thesis court case! I want to be the Roe v. Wade of marijuana, at least here in New Jersey,” he says.
So, he gave me the contact information for his lawyer, appeals attorney and mafia specialist John Saykanic, whom he insists will talk to me and point me in the right legal direction. Ed says Saykanic believes his to be the most important marijuana case in New Jersey history. I know some of Ed’s other supporters, like nurse and advocate Ken Wolski, who will offer a quote or two and even introduce me to other folks, maybe folks from NORML New Jersey who’d add color and dimension to his story. But will precedence, originality and putting a lifestyle spin on this story be enough for a national publication to pick it up and PAY me for it?
Ed has already told me that national magazine High Times, which is probably the most reputable magazine about marijuana use and advocacy won’t write about him, that they’re biased against him. Great (High Times pays really well). He also said that there are many more publications, that for one discriminatory reason or other, won’t publish a fair article about him either.
This doesn’t inspire confidence in a freelance writer. It’s a damned shame too, because Ed Forchion — A.K.A. The NJ Weedman — is one of the more intelligent, interesting and inspiring people I’ve come across as a freelance journalist. His story deserves to be told. Whenever I speak to him it seems as if he’s got oceans of information to spill about his chaotic life; that he’s just in need of someone who’ll simply listen objectively and who wants to cover more than what can sensationally sell papers or matter of factly detail his court appearances, of which there are very many. He speaks in sort of a spider web of subjects, each one loosely connected and expanding on another, and within minutes he can go from talking about his legal case, to his Liberty Bell Temple marijuana dispensary in California, to his medical issues, to his lack of Black support, to his mom being an “Angela Davis wannabe,” to how he feels sorry for Trenton Mayor Tony Mack in the wake of his corruption charge conviction and how his lighter wouldn’t light while he was standing outside the courthouse when the jury let out and he couldn’t do a weed-fueled interview with his iPhone. I envision a front page story for some publication who shares my view that Ed is a fascinating figure, whether you agree with him or not, and his story deserves the platform that a big publication can provide. He’s lost everything: all his money, a woman he loved, his dog…and he’ll keep going because he believes, KNOWS, that his cause is a righteous one.
Perhaps I’ll pitch a lifestyle article, long form (more than 1,000 words), to the Courier-Post and to the Burlington County Times. I’ll attach this blog. Let me go do that now.