Mike Steindel (
Fri, 9 Jul 1999 01:52:59 -0700 (PDT)

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A campaign of marijuana smoking=A0

A Camden County freeholder board candidate inhales and gets himself
By Angela Couloumbis

CHERRY HILL -- Baseball cap pulled low on his brow, a lit joint dangling
from his lips, Camden County Freeholder hopeful Edward Forchion was
about to demonstrate his version of political stumping.

Standing before the locked front door of the county's Democratic
headquarters, independent candidate Forchion took a drag off his
marijuana cigarette, lifted his fists, and pounded on the glass door. 

"Hey, buddy, can I come in," Forchion, asked between puffs, spotting the
shadow of a person scurrying from his view.

"Hey, I'm standing out here smoking a joint," Forchion yelled into the

"Aren't you going to call the police on me?"=A0 Forchion, who is running
for freeholder under a "Legalize Marijuana" platform, wasn't going to
let the county Democrats' inaction spoil his fun. He hopped into his
black van, the one he's decorated with green stickers of cannabis
leaves, drove to the nearest public phone, and called the police

"He called us saying he was going to be at county headquarters, toking
on a roach," said Cherry Hill Lt. Christopher D. Harty. "A couple of our
guys went out there and arrested him on a disorderly persons offense."

And that, said Forchion, was precisely the intended outcome.

The 33-year-old Chesilhurst resident wanted to make a statement, a
statement that is the centerpiece and lone purpose of his solo campaign:
that marijuana must be legalized, and arresting people smoking marijuana
is just downright dumb. It is a statement, he says, he intends to take
to several prominent candidates' offices between now and the November
election. And if he gets arrested again, all the better, he says. 

"I'm going to pick a different person every time," said Forchion, a
former truck driver who is now unemployed. "I want people to know that I
am against the punitive approach to drug use."But why show people that
by smoking a joint at Democratic headquarters? 

"I'm protesting [ U.S. ] Congressman [ Rob ] Andrews' opposition to a
bill that would legalize the medical use of marijuana," Forchion said,
adding that he is gathering signatures to run for Congress against
Andrews. Forchion said he had walked into Andrews' congressional office
in Haddon Heights on
monday smoking a joint and asked his staffers to arrest him. When
Andrews' congressional staff hesitated, Forchion left the office, called
police, and then returned to smoke a second joint, waiting for the men
in blue to show.

Haddon Heights police could not be reached for comment yesterday. Bill
Caruso, special assistant to Andrews, said simply: "The police came, and
we are cooperating with the investigation." At Democratic headquarters
yesterday, county Democratic chairman David Luthman shook his head,
watching silently as Cherry Hill police officers took statements from
two county Democratic employees. Luthman then retreated into his office.

"We live in a society of laws, and even if you disagree with those laws,
that doesn't give you license to violate them," Luthman said, adding
that his office also called police on Forchion."There are other means by
which you can lobby for changes in those laws. I'm not sure what he's
trying to prove."

Forchion doesn't suffer from the same uncertainty."This is a civil
disobedience that goes on every day," he said. For yesterday's arrest,
Forchion will face a municipal judge by the end of next month, police
said. And doesn't he think a record full of arrests will hurt his
chances of getting elected in Camden County?=A0

"Nope," Forchion said simply. "There are a lot of marijuana users out
there who would love to see the drug legalized." 

X-URL-Title: Ed Forchion
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