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Medical marijuana advocates fire up outside NJ Statehouse

Photo Credit: Jason Arnold
Photo Credit: Jason Arnold
Photo Credit: Jason Arnold
Photo Credit: Jason Arnold

It didn’t draw the 500 or more attendees that organizers hoped, but a “smoke in” on the steps of the Statehouse in Trenton to celebrate “National Weed Day” this afternoon went off without a bust.

The “4/20 at Noon” march and rally in support of state Sen. Nicholas Scutari’s marijuana legalization bill was organized by Ed Forchion — also known as NJ Weedman.

It came at the end of a march from the city train station that included a stop at the federal courthouse and included several of the 150 or so who turned out lighting up joints and eating pot brownies.

READ: Bergen judge grants son of reggae great Peter Tosh one-week furlough for Jamaica concert

It included an inflated dummy with a blue shirt, pants, a tie and the fact of Gov. Chris Christie taped onto the head next to a sign that read: “Kids Who Need Medical Marijuana Live in Colorado or Die in New Jersey” and featured a photo of a girl who moved to Colorado from New Jersey next to one who died here last year.

New Jersey State Police kept watch over the proceedings, but no arrests were made.

Attendees included the progeny of two deceased reggae greats — Makeda Marley and  Jawara McIntosh, Peter Tosh’s son, who is awaiting trial for having 65½ pounds of pot in his car during a Mahwah traffic stop last June.

He performed his father’s song “Legalize It.”

“There are just too many medical reports and medical professionals who believe in the medicinal benefits of marijuana to ignore the big government push to limit access,” McIntosh — also known as Tosh 1 — told CLIFFVIEW PILOT last week.

“The only ones who should fear it are the pharmaceutical companies whose medicines rarely work, or work with enormous side effects,” he said.

Ed Forchion (NJ Weedman) COURTESY: Jason Arnold

Forchion — who wore a Christ-like crown of thorns adorned with imitation marijuana leaves — spoke of the disproportionate number of minorities who are jailed or imprisoned because of pot use or possession.

“On this family day (of Easter), think of how many people are in a cage due to a plant,” he told the crowd.

Forchion is serving a staggered 270-day jail sentence separated by days of release for treatment of cancerous tumors in his legs. He said he will move to California, where medical marijuana is legal.

Researchers have cited the effectiveness of marijuana in dealing with nauseau and pain, said Ken Wolski, director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey.

“So many people are suffering needlessly” he said.

Sunday’s rally was one of several held nationwide.

The “4/20″ counterculture holiday — in both the U.S. and Canada — stems from a group of San Rafael, California teenagers calling themselves the Waldos who began using the term in 1971 as a code for their meeting time while on a search for an abandoned cannabis crop they’d heard about.

They never found the herb, but the term took root. It soon became associated with pot smoking, in general, before sprouting into an annual national observance — publicized in large part by followers of the Grateful Dead.

McIntosh has been free since posting a $200,000 cash bond in December. Two months ago, a judge in Hackensack granted him a one-week furlough so he could perform at a concert in Kingston, Jamaica, as part of Reggae Month there.

Makeda Marley, Jawara McIntosh (COURTESY: Jason Arnold)

McIntosh, 34, didn’t have a license — and had open bottles of booze on the front seat — when his rental car was stopped for recklessly cutting off other motorists on Route 17, Mahwah police said in June.

A group called Cannibas Patriots Unite (CPUnite.org) says McIntosh was arrested for “driving while dread[locked]” and called him the world’s “most important political prisoner.”

The California/Colorado non-profit group contends that McIntosh is accused of possessing an “herb” that in 20 states, including New Jersey, is considered to have medicinal value.

For those who follow the African-based spiritual ideology known as Rastafari, pot is a sacrament — “whether it be a stick or a ton,” the group adds.

“One crucial element of this mission is to make it very clear to the world that arrests for cannabis are politically motivated and are not based on science or legitimate social needs,” CPUnite said in a statement following his bail hearing.

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