Robert Edward “NJ Weedman” Forchion hasn’t yet arrived in New Jersey to take part in his follow-up trial for the distribution charge stemming from his last arrest in the state. Last Spring, he detailed his struggle with Giant Cell Tumors and his subsequent admission into a drug study using the experimental Denosumab, led by a Dr. Henrifar of the Sarcoma Oncology Center in Santa Monica, CA. Back then he was found guilty of possession of marijuana, but the more serious intent to distribute charge was left until now.
This, however, isn’t the NJ Weedman’s real problem.
He had a difficult time even getting back to his adopted home of Southern California after that trial. He got stranded in Denver, until a supporter sent some cash through PayPal so Forchion could get his “Weedmobil” fixed and continue on his way. He’s even had to accept his “medicine” through charitable donations from supporters and fans because he’s got no money for a weed stash. To say the dude is strapped for cash and any viable means of earning it right now what with court dates, cancer treatments and his dispensary being raided by the Feds is an understatement.
But this isn’t the NJ Weedman’s major issue either.
Next, he began attempting to shame, even bully at times, certain celebrities and politicians via social media connected to New Jersey (mostly to pot use) for not standing up and supporting him. These include comedian Joe Rogan, Snoop Dogg, actor/comedian Tracy Morgan and Newark mayor Cory Booker.
This won’t help.
Then, in a Facebook thread, he argued the definition of the word ‘martyr’ and suggested he was one because he’s been called a martyr by some supporters during his marijuana legal struggles. When Malala Yousafzai is fighting for her life right now, that’ll be a tough one to make a case for.
To reiterate, the NJ Weedman’s problem isn’t what’s going on today at the Burlington County Superior Court or previously at the Sarcoma Oncology Center or anytime on Twitter or Facebook, and he needs to know a secret. Forchion needs to know that although he may be banned from presenting evidence about New Jersey’s medical marijuana law to defend himself it’s unlikely he’ll get even one juror to agree that he’s not guilty because he’s broken an unjust law, because he needs to change his thinking. He needs to know THE SECRET:
Your thoughts create your life. You attract what you think about most. And you become what you think about most.
Therefore, if Forchion insists on believing himself a martyr or that the celebrity community owes him their support or that as he puts it, “So many people are full of shit in this legalize marijuana movement. Back stabbed (sic) haters and rats,” he won’t win this part of the trial, he won’t ever earn any money and his tumors will not shrink.
The Secret is a best-selling book by Rhonda Byrne and the science and philosophy of it are supported by quantum physics, by the medical community including David D. Burns, MD, author of Feeling Good and by the teachings of the Buddha and Einstein.
I wrote about something last week that attracted so many people to this website that it made my head spin. I wrote about Edward “NJ Weedman” Forchion, a man who was on trial and is soon to be on trial again here in New Jersey for marijuana possession and intent to distribute. He’s a good guy who’s been completely open about his marijuana use, his history with selling weed and his crusade to legalize the drug, especially knowing all of marijuana’s health benefits, which include shrinking tumors like the Giant Cell Tumors (GCTs) that he suffers from. I had other web editors call me and ask to repost the article. I had many folks comment on my website about the article, pro and con. Buzz, buzz, and more buzz. But all this begs the question: Does this make me a pot writer now?
At first, I had some trepidation. I didn’t want to be known as, “Kellie, the Weed Writer Girl.” I thought it may attract a little too much attention, the wrong kind of attention, if you get my drift. However, seeing Ed, and how gracefully he’s handled his ordeal and also understanding and agreeing with him that marijuana needs to be decriminalized if not outright legalized has brought me and my feelings out of the woodwork. There are many more hundreds of thousands if not millions of people who agree. Sick people, activists, casual users, politicians, there’s a pot enthusiast around every corner, and we know the facts.
Marijuana is NOT addictive like prescription drugs are. It’s a plant dammit, a plant that grows from the earth. A large percentage of people thrown in jail for non-violent drug offenses (the majority of the prison population) were weed possession cases. And there are a myriad of uses, healthy uses, of the cannabis plant that the United States government refuses to acknowledge because it knocks their “gateway theory” out of the box and this war on drugs that Richard Nixon started in 1972 would prove the absolute sham that it is. It’s even more frustrating that in my home state, which I love dearly, our republican (IDIOT) governor is keeping sick people from getting well by not following through with the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act that was voted on and PASSED here two whole years ago. That’s NOT acceptable.
Cannabis not only shrinks tumors, it opens passageways helping the asthmatic, it relaxes muscles helping those with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. It helps migraine sufferers, and stimulates the appetites of AIDS and cancer patients with nausea. In other words, there’s a damned good reason that around the world marijuana is called, “God’s Plant.” And I’m not even getting into the many, many uses of different strains of cannabis, like industrial hemp, which from what I’ve read, could cut the United States dependence on foreign oil down to NOTHING if we’d just develop the plant. There’s even a Marie Claire article I found from a few years ago about the growing population of educated, professional women dealing with debilitating amounts of stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression from work (like I was a few years ago) and who blaze up in their off hours because it works, first of all and without becoming addicted to anti-depressants or benzodiazepines, and it’s also more cost-effective than blowing a couple hundred dollars a weekend on going out to clubs for drinks. The message is clear: the United States, no matter if you’re uninsured, does NOT want Americans healing themselves naturally. During the past week, I’ve become simultaneously more open, and a bit more cynical.
Yes, I’m a little passionate about this issue. And I’m more than a little pissed at the United States government about this issue. I guess that makes me a pot writer.
VIDEO: Matt Lauer (Today Show, NBC) Interviewing Marie Claire Editor Joanna Coles & Dr. Julie Holland about all the female casual users out there. (Ignore everything Holland says about addiction. Weed AIN’T addictive. Coffee is.)
Ed Forchion challenged the NJ marijuana law, and for now, at least according to Forchion, the law won. Forchion, also known as the “NJ Weedman,” was acquitted unanimously of the possession charge in his case stemming from a 2010 arrest by a NJ State Trooper, yet the jury was conflicted to the tune of seven to five on another charge:
Possession with Intent to Distribute.
He gets to do this all over again in a couple of weeks, and Forchion describes it as being “stuck,” because he can’t get back to California to enter a drug study that would hopefully treat the Giant Cell Tumor (GCT) condition he has.
“My anger is subsiding,” says Forchion. “I get to challenge things and they’re obligated, the public defender’s office, to help me now. I go back on Wednesday, in front of the same judge, for a status conference. And the next trial is set for the following week, the 22nd.”
This same thing happened to John Ray Wilson, the Franklin, NJ Multiple Sclerosis patient who was sent to prison last year for growing a few herb plants in his backyard because it was the only thing that soothed his medical symptoms. He had no health insurance and no way to pay the exorbitant medical and pharmaceutical bills he’d rack up, not to mention the possibility that pharmaceuticals wouldn’t work for him and make him dreadfully sick. All of this in a state that’s already passed a Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. So Forchion has got to have something different up his sleeve or his fate will be the same as Wilson’s.
“This charge flies in the face of the New Jersey constitution. I’m conserving all my arguments for the appeals process. Wait until I challenge this state charge and the unfair jury charge. I’m fighting. It’s a legitimate fight on constitutional grounds. Watch the people who’ll come out of the woodwork for this one. It’s not going to be the stoners. There will be constitutional-type lawyers to come into this argument. I won’t say I’m well-versed in constitutional arguments although I’m aware, and have done my own research. It’s not even about me. Jury nullification is the way for all of us to beat this ‘war on drugs’ to defeat the (Governor) Christies, to beat these unjust laws. To take it right to the jury. On the one hand I feel bad for calling the jurors cowards, but I kind of wanted to make that splash. This is a valid argument,” says Forchion.
What are your thoughts? Will this second trial end differently or will Forchion’s activism go up in smoke?
VIDEO: Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion venting his frustration just after his possession trial ended on May 9th.
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 NJWeedman.com, 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.
In January, 2010, then Governor Jon Corzine signed into New Jersey law the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. The law is supposed to bring Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to New Jersey to bring the relief to medical patients with debilitating diseases that traditional pharmaceutical medicine isn’t. Trenton’s Ken Wolski, 63, CEO of the Coalition of Medical Marijuana of NJ has spent years advocating making medical marijuana a bona fide treatment option for those very patients. Here’s a 420 update on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Act: what’s clogging up the works, how many people can be helped having access to this treatment and an introduction to Ken Wolski.
Q:What’s your background in activism?
KW: I’m a registered nurse for 35 years with licenses in NJ and PA. I’ve had a wide variety of experiences in psychiatric and university hospitals, and then with the Dept. of Corrections, which especially turned me off to the ‘war on drugs.’ I saw the prison population explode during those 22 years I worked within the system from 8,000 to 27,00 inmates. It struck me as wrong to incarcerate your way out of a drug problem. On one of my trips to Europe I met a gentleman who was an American expatriate who’d been released from a year in maximum-security prison for growing and using marijuana grown on his Kentucky farm for treating glaucoma on the advice of his doctor. I was working as supervisor of nurses at NJ State Prison at the time and knew what inmates were subjected to everyday, and it seemed so inappropriate to me that this guy was trying to save his sight, when no medicine was helping him and this is what the government does to him. The government seized his home and his farm. He fled to Europe to get the marijuana so that he could save his eyesight. So I started doing research on the issue and found out that this story was just the tip of the iceberg and this kind of injustice to patients was happening to people all over the country. So I asked the State Nurses Association if they wouldn’t support a medical marijuana resolution, and after some debate in 2003, the NJ State Nurses Association did adopt a resolution for medical marijuana that recognized safety and efficacy for a number of conditions and that patients should be protected by law. The National Nurses Association adopted the same resolution a year later.
Q:What’s the deal with Governor Chris Christie?
KW: The war on drugs is a separate issue with its own problems. Governor Christie is the main barrier, but the federal government does not recognize medical uses of marijuana, which is an absurd denial of science. 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia, Rhode Island and New Jersey are the only ones left that don’t have working programs. The 110 pages of regulations Christie came up with are designed to obstruct rather than facilitate the program. It’s designed to have poor-quality (10 percent cap on THC, the chemical that provides marijuana’s effect) marijuana, poor variety and available to very few patients. It’s got these physician’s registration rules saying that every physician needs to register with the Department of Health and jump through many hoops to register, education courses in pain management and addiction control, which have nothing to do with marijuana therapy. I used to give morphine drips in a cardiac care unit and I never needed addiction control and pain management certification.
Q: Why are we hearing so much about planned dispensaries, and then hearing “The people don’t want it?
KW: The six alternative treatment centers do have to go in specific locations according to the law: two in the northern part of the state, two in the central part of the state and two in the southern part. But when the regulations were released, they treated these alternative treatment centers like they’d be handling nuclear or toxic waste, far more strictly than full-service pharmacies, scaring these communities into not wanting the centers in their backyards. I attended some of these hearings and what people thought these alternative treatment centers were going to do to their communities was just absurd. They talked about the most unreasonable fears. The health department did nothing to reassure the communities that they’d be responsible for managing these centers. Hopefully, cooler heads are going to prevail.
Q: How much easier would all of this be if marijuana came off the government’s list of Schedule One addictive drugs?
KW: It would make a world of difference. Schedule One is just so totally inappropriate, saying marijuana has no accepted medical uses even under medical supervision and that its got a high potential for abuse, and none of that is correct. If 16 states and the District of Columbia have bills for the use of medical marijuana, and another 18 have pending legislation, and there’s so much information out there about the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, people aren’t going to continue to be fooled by the government’s insistence that marijuana is a Schedule One drug. It’s the big lie. Back in 1993 I knew it helped with glaucoma and with the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer patients. But now there’s been just an explosion of uses for marijuana from seizure control, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, not to mention the emotional and psychological conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. One in four people in New Jersey can be helped by the use of medical marijuana. And because it’s classified a Schedule One drug, the government won’t even allow studies to be done to prove the efficacy of medical marijuana for those conditions. Science is being abused and patients are being abused.
is the executive director of CMMNJ – www.cmmnj.org
VIDEO: Ken Wolski testifying at the New Jersey State Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Services Committee public hearing on January 20, 2011 on resolution SCR 130. This is part of a constitutional process to rescind and re-write overly restrictive rules for the medical marijuana program.
Ed Forchion, better known in some public circles as NJ Weedman, is facing seven years in prison for carrying marijuana back to New Jersey while visiting family. The problem is that he’s a legitimate medical marijuana patient — prescription card and all — yet because the New Jersey program isn’t up and running yet, and because his history with the law regarding marijuana isn’t exactly squeaky clean, the NJ Weedman is being dragged through a system determined to make him an example. He’s a Rastafarian from Browns Mills — part politician, part activist — who tours in a Weedmobil, making headlines recently for attempting to legally change his name to NJWeedman.com. He supports the social, medical and religious uses of marijuana and agreed to sit down with KCMJournalist in the near future. SCORE! Happy 420 everybody. Meet the NJ Weedman.
VIDEO: A “highlight reel” of NJ Weedman’s tour across the U.S.