The notorious underground legacy operator Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion won approval from the Trenton City Council to open a legal New Jersey cannabis NJWeedman’s dispensary.
NJWeedman has been leading the movement for a legacy to legal pathway as a Social Equity New Jersey cannabis dispensary license applicant. He has been working to convert his NJWeedman’s Joint across the street from Trenton City Hall. NJWeedman has been close to Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.
Gusciora has advocated for New Jersey cannabis legalization for years and allowed underground cannabis operators to flourish in the city.
The Trenton cannabis law was likely written to accommodate turning the unlicensed NJWeedman’s Joint cannabis dispensary and lounge into a licensed business NJWeedman’s Dispensary LLC.
NJWeedman Goes Legacy to Legal
“This is a long time coming,” NJWeedman said to the council. “This month, 26 years ago, was my first felony arrest for selling marijuana. Here I am asking the city council to approve my resolution to, among other things, sell marijuana legally.”
He thanked the Trenton Cannabis Board for approving him already.
“I couldn’t image coming before a government body 26 years ago,” NJWeedman joked. “The world’s changed.”
He explained he has a conditional New Jersey cannabis dispensary license from the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC).
“Very rarely am I stuck for words,” NJWeedman admitted. “I am getting tongue-tied here.”
“Thank you for coming before us. This is a moment in time. It will probably turn your life around completely in a manner that benefits not just you but our community. What so many of our Black men have been incarcerated for you now get to be able to get to be recipient, the reward of it,” City Council President Teska Frisby declared.
“I’m glad you’re taking all the proper steps for it. You’re going to be on the pathway for others to come here and do it the right way. Thank you for doing exactly what you’re doing and showing folks it can be done. And it is going to be done here in our capital city,” she added.
Trenton City Council and NJWeedman
“I’m glad to see you here in a positive way, looking to do it the right way. You are more than just a business owner here. You encourage entrepreneurship,” City Council Vice President Crystal Feliciano said.
She added, “You have taken the proceeds… and have awarded two Trenton High School students with scholarships of $5,000 apiece,” to applause. “Your heart is for the city. Thank you for coming forward to do it the right way.”
“I commend all the efforts you have put into this industry from the moment I met you back in 2014,” At Large Councilwoman Jasi Mikae Edwards said.
She works for Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) and has done so since she was an Assemblywoman.
“I remember you nearly every single Thursday (by the State House) advocating for the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis. You were relentless in that fight,” Edwards noted. “You’ve provided a platform for economic development. What are your plans for your business?”
“I kind of do an entertainment thing over there. It’s not just selling weed. I have like a stage over there. There’s a lot of young people who don’t have a place to go and perform,” NJWeedman said.
Serial Entrepreneur Goes Legit
He explained he bought the building next to his Joint café to become the New Jersey adult use cannabis licensed NJWeedman’s Dispensary.
They are two separately registered businesses.
“I always thought I was a businessman. I had a little detour in state prison. It’s a new world,” NJWeedman added.
“This City Council tried to do everything it could to get to this point for everybody with cannabis. What does it feel like becoming legitimate? South Ward Councilwoman Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg asked.
“Emotionally, I’m at a loss for words. I really do feel like this is a momentous day,” NJW said. “It’s been, you know, a fight here, a fight there. Here we are.”
“We talk about marijuana in the city of Trenton, and it’s you. Thank you for your contribution to the city,” At Large Councilwoman Yazminelly Gonzalez said.
The Trenton City Council approved NJWeedman’s Dispensary unanimously.
Longtime Coming for Noted Underground Legacy Operator
NJW has inspired other underground legacy cannabis operators to openly sell weed as well. Many encouraged him to go legal so others would as well. As a noted activist, NJW also inspired many of the leading New Jersey cannabis advocates who led the effort to change the law. They inspired others to join in the larger New Jersey cannabis legalization movement.
Other efforts to help the community he has done were not discussed.
“I’ve given away hundreds of meals. On Fridays, I used to give 100 meals to the homeless shelter,” NJW added.
NJW said he has actually given out four scholarships in total and offered a few internships. In addition, NJWeedman’s Joint employs other felons as well to give back to the community.
NJw noted his daughter won a New Jersey cannabis cultivation license under the name Forchion Farms. They are also contemplating other legal New Jersey adult use cannabis dispensary locations as well.
New Jersey Cannabis Legalization Progress
“The state has moved more towards how I was thinking 20 years ago. I don’t think I’ve capitulated. There’s no need for me to scream and holler.”
However, Njw was a little unhappy that he couldn’t put a weed leaf on his sign due to the New Jersey adult use cannabis regulations implemented to calm moderates. He was also unhappy at home grow and the dominance of Multi-State Operators (MSOs).
NJW still has to convert to an annual New Jersey cannabis dispensary license. But he is not worried about that.
“We already sent it knowing we were going to get it,” NJw noted about converting.
“I think it will work out,” NJw said. “Things are going good. Everything’s gonna happen if I take my time.”
NJWeedman has had different views of the New Jersey adult use cannabis legalization. Overall, he was very critical of the New Jersey adult use cannabis legalization initial efforts in 2018 and 2019 that did not explicitly lay out a legacy to legal path.
Forchion had been skeptical of New Jersey cannabis legalization and has continued his support for his fellow unlicensed New Jersey cannabis small businesspeople.
Initially, the New Jersey cannabis legalization constitutional referendum allowing sales passed November 2020. It said the market would open January 1, 2021. When the legislature was stalled, he took the initiative to say he was open legally.
The NJ-CRC has been walking a fine line between persuading underground legacy operators to go legal and criticizing their way of life.
Like most New Jersey cannabis companies, they are seeking to raise money as well.
Njw noted that three unlicensed underground dispensaries are close to his in violation of the city’s distance requirement. NJw added city has been raiding a few of them.
Another dispensary that was a cannabis corporation Multi-State Operator (MSO) with few ties to Jersey, much less Trenton, called Astronaut Planet World was also approved. They had strong ties to California and North Carolina. They said they do some charity and care about addressing the War on Drugs. Astronaut Planet claimed to have national reach. They’re taking over an abandoned site.
They were approved by the Council as well.