Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion is contesting New Jersey’s cannabis legalization in a federal lawsuit against New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
Only “regulated cannabis,” defined as cannabis sold by a dispensary licensed by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), will be allowed in the marketplace. But individuals possessing and selling underground cannabis will still be violating the law.
“Our State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is on record stating that the new amendment does not authorize unregulated marijuana,” NJWeedman said.
NJWeedman and a Legal Cannabis Market
NJWeedman seeks to have the Court declare the referendum unconstitutional and invalidate the application and implementation of the ‘Constitutional Amendment to Legalize Marijuana.’”
He asserts that the Regulated Cannabis Act, as the amendment is referred to in the lawsuit, “deprives him of equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution and subjects him to selective prosecution.
NJWeedman argues that the enabling legislation will unjust if the cannabis sold by corporations, large run by white men, is legal. In contrast, cannabis sold in the underground market, in which minority entrepreneurs thrive, remains illegal to sell in comparable quantities.
“This new Caucasian corporate cannabis industry is a sham,” Forchion said. “Politicians are in cahoots with corporations to take over and control what is now a multi-billion-dollar industry while excluding the existing marijuana market. We are witnessing systematic discrimination.”
NJWeedman noted that the state allows Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) dispensaries to possess large amounts of marijuana in violation of federal law while prosecuting individuals such as himself.
Forchion, a long-time marijuana activist, has had numerous marijuana-related prosecutions brought against him by the State of New Jersey, including a pending matter.
NJWeedman has chosen to represent himself.
In 2016, Mercer County law enforcement raided the restaurant owned by Forchion and his partner, Debi Madaio, on trafficking charges. Forchion was held without bail for over 400 days due to the retaliatory charge of witness tampering. A jury acquitted him, and all charges were dismissed.
NJWeedman and Madaio have started a petition for a license to operate in the legal market.
Senate Judiciary Chair Nick Scutari (D-Union) said in the last committee hearing that NJWeedman would not necessarily be barred from entering the legal market. His trafficking of large amounts of marijuana, though, will not be expunged.
The Senate Democrats seem to be courting Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) for his vote. Along with others, he has said publicly that he wants the black market destroyed.
The number of licenses set aside for Black and Latino businesses at 30 percent in the bill has been widely criticized. Advocates have demanded more opportunities for people with criminal records in the enabling bill.
NJWeedman is not the only one concerned about many of these issues. Other people would like to see the underground entrepreneurs have a way into the market and end the underground market in that fashion.
A great many advocates have stressed the need for small minority entrepreneurs to receive a license.
Many Republicans have noted that if the tax is too high. NJWeedman and his industry colleagues will indeed continue to thrive if the price for legal cannabis is too high.