to Provide Defense
Lawsuit Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court
Hollywood, CA - On Tuesday, July 14, 2010, Ed Forchion aka NJWeedman reports he was robbed at gunpoint by the Los Angeles Police Department in his Liberty Bell Temple. The Liberty Bell Temple, located at 5642 Hollywood Blvd, is a Rastafarian Temple that services the needs of The Rastafarian Community. Not listed among a posting of medical marijuana dispensaries subject to recent closure, Forchion states he was falsely charged with a misdemeanor city code (LAMC - 188.8.131.52) for failing to cease operations. Noting that nothing in the code calls for a seizure of property, Forchion reveals that the LAPD confiscated three pounds of medical marijuana, almost $7,000 of supplies and all the cash on the premises.
The Temple staff was handcuffed and Forchion, alongside his partner, Charquant Leyou, were arrested and jailed. Forchion, who is represented by Attorney David Welch from D|R Welch Attorneys at Law P.C. has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior alleging deprivation of the right to practice Rastafari without due process of law. The defendant is also seeking a court order preventing authorities from interfering with their ability to operate their temple.
A self proclaimed exile, activist and former political prisoner, Forchion originally relocated to California just a few years ago to enjoy the benefits of the state's more relaxed marijuana laws, per the passage of the Prop. 215 Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and SB420. Better known as NJWeedman, the celebrity activist has received international media attention, publicly touting California as the forefront of what he perceives to be "the reefer revolution." The recent raid has not only saddened, but confused him. Only months ago, the same Los Angeles Police Department was instrumental in securing his grow room operation back from a landlord who tried to steal his plants - http://ping.fm/6IISl .
"I left the restrictive confines of the state of New Jersey to enjoy a new found freedom here in California. Per my now famous Hollywood Hemp Mansion Parties, I have been trying to live a good life and leave behind my days of activism, but this new assault on my rights now leaves me no choice but to battle coast to coast!" cites Forchion.
"If the city was serving The Liberty Bell Temple on a municipal code violation why did they also seize the medical/spiritual marijuana and cash, amongst other things without the constitutionally guaranteed due process of a valid search warrant?" asks Forchion.
"The Police have still not provided the Temple with a search warrant, nor the affidavit required to obtain one. If we were a 7-11, Rite Aid, Scientology Center, Synagogue, or Christian Church the city would not send battle-dressed cops with battering rams and shotguns. This was straight militarized robbery by cops, under the guise of this new city ordinance."
Medical marijuana attorney, David Welch Esq. and his firm, D|R Welch Attorneys at Law P.C. are recognized for providing aggressive and knowledgeable representation in all areas of the medical marijuana law throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, and other Southern California communities.
"During the raid on Liberty Bell Temple II on July 14, 2010, the police made threatening remarks in an attempt to chill the practice of Rastafari by the members of Liberty Bell Temple II," cites Welch. "These acts are a clear violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the California Constitution. We will seek an injunction by the courts to prevent further police activity against the members of Liberty Bell Temple II and their practice and congregation in their Rastafarian faith."
When discussing the religious use of marijuana Forchion cites, "I don't think our Liberty Bell Temple or any Rastafarian Temple is any different than the UDV Church - (http://ping.fm/6NyYy). ; Members of the UDV Church use a substance called Hoasca, Rastafarains use substance called "marijuana."
The UDV Church realized a landmark Federal ruling when it was determined in the case Gonzales vs. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal that the Federal Government's seizure of their sacramental tea, which contained a Schedule I substance was in fact illegal and a violation permitted under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Seagram heir and UDV Church member, Jeffrey Bronfman funded the case to the Supreme Court.
About Ed Forchion aka NJWeedman
NJWeedman first achieved cult status and media notoriety when he was arrested for smoking the sacred herb in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA. As one of the most prominent figures in the medical marijuana movement, Forchion is continually fueling his advocacy. As the founder of the Legalize Marijuana Party of New Jersey in 1998, Forchion has run campaigns for Governor, Congress, the State Legislature, and the Burlington County Board of Freeholders in New Jersey.
Forchion's activism has led him to appearances in documentaries including "How Weed Won the West," and Jack Herer's "The Emperor's Wears No Clothes", Spike TV's "10,000 Ways to Die," and Direct TV's "Supreme Court of Comedy". He has also been featured regularly on TMZ.
His NJWeedman's video series, filmed from the Liberty Bell Temple and seen on his website http://ping.fm/1exUQ ; and at YouTube.com, commands a following of viewers from around the world. He regularly updates his footage with vivid coverage of the happenings at the Temple, including specials on the vast varietals of medicinal marijuana he was able to serve up legally, daily to his patients.
In addition, his memoirs, "Public Enemy 420" is chock full of amazing statistics about the "politricks" of marijuana as well as the page turning adventures of his life. From his early days of trafficking marijuana, to his legal battles with the state officials in New Jersey, his months behind bars and finally his sojourn to sunny California, Ed Forchion 's live is a real life tale of "high" drama.
In an effort to raise money for his defense fund, Forchion is hosting a "Fundraiser Fish Fry" every Friday at the Liberty Bell Temple at 5642 Hollywood Blvd., along with his regular Reggae Night Jam every Monday at the Blu Monkey lounge, located at 5521 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, CA.
To view the police raid at Liberty Bell Temple, go to http://ping.fm/twZKW
To track NJWeedman's legal battles, support his case and contribute to his defense fund, log on at http://ping.fm/gGM45