Where There's Smoke, There's a Shadow Convention

  Where There's Smoke, There's a Shadow Convention

Posted by FoM on August 01, 2000 at 23:03:59 PT
By Dennis Roddy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer  
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

In a decision that has put police and pizza delivery men equally on alert, members of the Legalize Marijuana Party intend to gather today at the Liberty Bell, light up a liberty bowl, and rally behind their candidate for Congress, who, happily, has made bail.Plans for today's rally were announced by Edward "NJWeedman" Forchion, who hopes to unseat incumbent Democrat Robert Andrews in New Jersey's First Congressional District. 
He also hopes to be acquitted on charges stemming from the seizure of 40 pounds of top-grade cannabis last year, but he preferred to focus on politics yesterday and, already sounding like a congressman, declined to answer some questions on the advice of his attorney.Forchion was among 1,200 people who attended yesterday's second day of the "Shadow Convention" at the University of Pennsylvania, across town from the equally exotic but more expensive Republican Convention.The brainchild of a coalition of groups distressed that their issues -- poverty, campaign reform and drug laws -- weren't being discussed this year, the Shadow Convention organized itself and became an almost obligatory stop for mainstream politicians eager to show that they truly care about being photographed alongside young people with backpacks.Wedged between the opening day and the day devoted for discussion of the widening gap between rich and poor, the session on ending the drug war and decriminalizing dope became a tricky venue for speakers. Jesse Jackson, a favorite lounge act among liberals, gave a deeply inspiring speech about nothing in particular, then led the crowd in a chant that sounded what should have been a discordant note."I am somebody," Jackson chanted."I am somebody," the crowd chanted back.So far, so good."Down with dope," Jackson chanted."Down with dope," the crowd chanted back."Up with hope," Jackson rhymed."Up with hope," the crowd rhymed back.But the damage was done. Operating on reflex, Jackson had badmouthed dope and inadvertently revealed the ideological chasm between people who are at the Shadow Convention because it is fashionable, and those who are there because the police wouldn't think to look for them on a university campus.I noticed the young woman sitting beside me, with a sign saying "Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense." Wasn't she there to advocate against criminal anti-drug laws, I asked her."Yeah, that's what it is today." Well, why was she joining in a "down with dope" chant?"I don't want to be quoted," she sneered and turned away. It was then that I noticed a careful manicure, perfect hair and a diamond engagement ring large enough to block a drain. It's a safe bet this kid has never had her mouth around a bong.Attendees for whom "Zig-Zag" does not mean a change in directions were more forthcoming."I think it's hard for these ministers to make that turnaround," said a bearded, wizened convention-goer named Laurie Cameron. I asked Cameron what organization he represented."I'm not with any group. I'm just an old pot head," he explained.Forchion, the congressional candidate of the cannabis bloc, was handing out campaign literature in the hallway between sessions. He stood near stacks of prefabricated convention signs reading "Educate, Don't Incarcerate," "Drug Abuse Is Bad/The Drug War Is Worse," and the fetchingly blunt, "Keep Your Laws Out of My Urine.""This'll be the third race I was in," Forchion said. He ran for congress once before. "I didn't come in last, either. I got about 3,000 votes," he said. He got the same number of votes when he ran for the New Jersey assembly.If Forchion can only find all these people, somewhere in the marshlands of New Jersey, there is at least one grand old party waiting to happen.Contact Information: Wednesday, August 2, 2000Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 PG PublishingRelated Articles & Web Sites:Legalize Marijuana Party Shadow Conventions Conventions Articles - Edward "NJWeedman" Forchion: Convention 2000 News Board Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Articles On The Shadow Conventions: 

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Comment #2 posted by FoM on September 17, 2000 at 15:24:52 PT
Important E-Mail From Ed Forchion
MY TRIAL BEGINS SEPT 18th, Camden County NJ - courtroom 36 For the last three years I've been openly resisting the marijuana laws here in NEW JERSEY. I hold a Act of Civil dis-obedience every month. - I've become a local celeb, even the papers call me "NJWEEDMAN" - I'm running for congress again as this trial begins. Whether I'm found guilty or not my opinion on marijuana will never change, the laws are wrong not I. Marijuana didn't ruin ruin me, the marijuana laws did. - But I'm a fighter, no matter how much pressure the local government put on me I continued to say publicly the truth about marijuana. I've continued to the point where I'm openly making statements to my potential jurors. I used to be upset that none of the organized marijuana reform movement supported me or helped me in anyway. I came to learn that if convicted I'll be in prison alone so it was no sense in getting upset that no-one helped. The one time help was offered (larry Hirsch, esq) it was just a $5,000 rip-off. I could have easliy run if I wanted, I know I could get across the canadian border if I wanted. I was a coast to coast trucker for seven years before this nighmare began. I've lived in Tucson Az before The mexican border would have been even easier, but I'm the father of four kids I love, I couldn't run. I had to stay and fight. I lost my truck, my house, so maybe my freedom. I have no lawyer, even the public defender's Office refused to defend me with my planned chosen defense (OPEN ADVOCATION of JURY NULLIFICATION) . The war on marijuana is a lawyer sham and very, very few lawyers really want to see the marijuana prohibition ended, certainly the Public Defender's Office didn't. So this week I'll be defending myself . I am a freedom fighter, I had to stay and fight. I've been hoping for the last three years that HIGHTIMES would feature me as a freedom fighter. I'd like to ask you the reader's of this board , for one favor: call HIGHTIMEs and suggest I be nominated for freedom fighter. Cannabis Culture too! This maybe one of the last e-mails you'll here from me for a while, maybe years. For the last two weeks I was jailed for nothing and had a $10,000 bail set not for anything I did be cause of who I've become "njweedman" somehow during this latest unjust incarceration my website has been removed, and I can't get it back up, and don't have the money to get someone else to help me. AMERICA WILL BE FREE OR DRUG FREE. I choose AMERICA THE FREE. Past News Stories on NJWEEDMAN: forever - njweedman 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on September 17, 2000 at 14:53:51 PT
Related Article
Jail Bars Keep Freeholder Candidate Off Campaign Trail By John Reitmeyer, BCT Staff Writer Friday, September 8, 2000Philly Burbs the passing of Labor Day means the end of summer to most, in political circles, the holiday marks the time most campaigns start to kick into high gear.But Pemberton Township resident Ed Forchion - an independent candidate in the race for Burlington County freeholder and a 1st-District Congressional hopeful - won't be matching his competitors' public appearance efforts any time soon because Forchion is stuck in jail.Forchion is an activist who openly advocates the legalization of marijuana. His legal troubles include drug, traffic and family court offenses. Forchion currently is being lodged in Camden County Jail in lieu of $ 10,000 bail, officials at the facility said.He's also facing $5,500 worth of retainers in Burlington County, including a warrant for failing to appear in Mount Holly Municipal Court on a drug charge that was filed as a result of Forchion's June arrest outside the county administration building on Rancocas Road.During the Mount Holly incident, Forchion smoked an apparent marijuana joint at the beginning of a planned press conference to announce his candidacy in the freeholder race and was immediately taken into custody.Now behind bars, Forchion says he has little chance of raising enough money to make bail in time to effectively campaign among his potential voters. He also has a trial beginning in Camden County Superior Court later this month on an unresolved 1997 marijuana possession charge."These are the times I start to fully regret opening my mouth,'' Forchion said during a recent interview from jail.Marijuana has a medicinal and ritual purpose for Forchion, he says, referring to his asthma and to the practice of his religion, Rastafaria. The drug's illegality hampers his ability to practice free religion and ignores its medicinal qualities for asthma patients, he claims."I still think I'm right,'' Forchion said. "My whole life is ruined because I tell the truth about marijuana.'' 
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