Two proponents of legalizing marijuana were convicted yesterday of misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana during three protests at Independence National Historical Park after a federal judge rejected their claim that smoking was constitutionally protected because they are Rastafarians.
Edward Forchion, 40, a perennial political candidate from Browns Mills in Burlington County who goes by the name “NJ Weedman,” and Patrick L. Duff, 27, of Philadelphia, were convicted for their actions during demonstrations near the Liberty Bell on Dec. 20, March 20 and April 17.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapoport set sentencing for tomorrow, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin R. Hayes said each man faces a year’s probation, with Forchion also facing a $750 fine and Duff a $500 fine. Rapoport rejected their claim that the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act exempted them from marijuana laws because marijuana is considered a sacrament in the Caribbean religion of Rastafarianism.
Nov. 11, 2004
Joseph A. Slobodzian