03/20/19 Ed Fourcion

New Jersey Weedman, Ed Fourchion set to sell weed at statehouse to challenge supposed legalization, Rob announces April 6 Cannabis Expo, Cornel Prof. Christopher Wildeman re "Nearly Half of US Families Have Had Relatives Behind Bars", Spoorthi Kamepalli re Baker Institute Seminar/Judging

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Guest: 
Ed Forchien
Download: Audio icon FDBCB032019.mp3
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

MARCH 20, 2019

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hello, my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am your host, Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. Here in just a little while we're going to hear from Professor Christopher Wildeman from Cornell University. We're going to hear a couple of segments about events happening in and around Houston.

But first up, well, folks, you know the truth is, I've been saying this for years, that if all the pot smokers that are so in love with the Genesis chapter one, and all these, you know, medical reasons, and appealing for, I don't know, another bowl of gruel from their legislators, would just stand up, would speak up, in church, at school, at work, would own it, this war on weed would be over this week.

Well, there's a gentleman in New Jersey who has been stepping forward, chin out, and doing what he can to expose this fraud and misdirection, challenging the authorities, the powers that be, there in New Jersey, to say he's wrong.

And, an article came out recently in The Trentonian, talking about that, it's titled up The New Jersey Weedman Plans To Sell Weed To Protest The New Jersey Weed Law.

And with that, I want to welcome Mister Ed Forchion. How are you doing, Ed?

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: Hey how are you, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Well, am I right? Have you not been kicking them in the teeth and challenging them to prove you wrong for quite some time?

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: Oh yeah, and you know, I even hate to call myself a defendant, because I feel like I'm on the offense all the time.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you are, and, but again, tell us about this, I guess forthcoming situation there in New Jersey. What are you going to do? How are you going to swing this one?

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: Well, you know, I'm a staunch supporter of jury nullification. I'm unconvictable. I think people understand that I've been resisting the government, and fighting the government, and, you know, people have the right to vote their conscience.

I've had some success when I was guilty before of being found not guilty. We in the state of New Jersey, are like at the eleventh hour before legalization comes, like, the legalization fight has pretty much been won. Public opinion, politicians, everyone says we're getting ready to get legalization. But how it's being implemented has actually, like, irritated me, made me really made.

I feel like for twenty years, I've been advocating for legalization in this state, and then here we are, about ready to legalize it, and I and people like me, we can't even -- we can't be a part of it, can't even sign our name to an application.

To grow marijuana in New Jersey, you basically have to have two million dollars. Just big corporations with a bunch of bureaucratic requirements in order to grow it. To be a distributor, again, hundreds of thousands of dollars, all kinds of corporate regulations that have to be imposed. Only the super rich could possibly do those things.

And then, the local dispensaries that are, again, twenty thousand dollars, requirements, the nonrefundable application fees, if you have a felony you cannot be a part of it. That's where I fall in. I've been convicted of marijuana, even under this legalization bill, I can't be a part of this new industry.

Sure, I can patronize the industry. Sure, I'll be allowed to go buy a twenty dollar bag of weed from the, but if I try to sell it, grow it, or distribute it myself, it's not legalization for me. I'll still go to prison or go to jail, and that's what I'm protesting now.

At this point, I have been arguing for years that, you know, I don't think getting busted straight up with weed right, you take it to trial, that the government can get a conviction. Now they're passing this law, that I'm not going to comply with.

For one thing, there will be times when I do sell, there will be times when I do distribute. There are times when I will possess more than what the government is about ready to allow.

So, we might as well not even wait until that happens. I'm proactively going to do it. I'm going to sell marijuana, distribute marijuana, and possess felony amounts of marijuana openly in public, and basically dare the prosecutor and the attorney general's office to arrest me and put me on trial.

They already know I won't take a plea. I'm doing this on purpose, in a similar way that Rosa Parks planned not to sit in the back of the bus that day. Same, the same way the Freedom Riders, who rode down south and sat in at diners, when they weren't supposed to.

Well, I'm protesting me and people like me not being allowed to get on the canna-bus at all, to be a part of this industry. The black market is the largest market in the state of New Jersey right now. It's actually the only market. One hundred percent of the people in New Jersey buy their marijuana off the black market, except for, sorry, not a hundred percent but maybe 99 point something percent, because there's 40,000 people in New Jersey that actually do have medical marijuana cards.

Still, it's one hundred percent illegal in the state of New Jersey, and everywhere in the country, federally. So again, the state is passing a law that allows certain people to supposedly sell, possess, and distribute marijuana, which I don't fall into that category, I can't, even though I want to.

And that law that they're passing will still be in violation of federal law, but supposedly they will -- the state law will be protecting them from federal prosecution, or federal law. I even find it amazing, I've told the federal -- the US Attorney's office that, you know, I basically said that, you know, it doesn't matter what the state of New Jersey does, it's still a violation of Title XXI, section 856, 857, 859 I believe.

But either way, I've said it in letters to the US Attorney, that I plan on breaking federal law simultaneously as I break New Jersey law, because it's the exact -- it's like, well, how does the state get to authorize this exemption, this prohibition on prosecution from the federal authorities? If the federal authorities are complicit when in fact state officials should be getting RICO processed, to be honest with you. But, whatever, you know.

DEAN BECKER: Well, hold on, let me interrupt you here a second. Folks, again, we're speaking with Mister Ed Forchion, the New Jersey Weedman, I'm sure you've seen his history a bit, but let's tell them a little bit more about your history.

You've actually opened up a shop, where you were selling, in your home town, I guess, marijuana. You've done battle a couple of different ways with trying to sell weed in front of your state house, if I recall. You have no qualms about standing up to these stupid laws, do you?

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: No, I feel like I was a victim of the stupid laws years ago, and I don't know, my life went in a different direction, and I've been, out of anger, sometimes, retaliation, revenge, but I've been attacking the status quo, the war on drugs, and if it's a war, it should be fought by both sides. You know?

Ninety percent of this war is fought by the government, destroying and ruining people's lives. And very few people resist. I've always resisted. I've openly resisted, I've openly, you know, peacefully, but I've openly resisted, I've openly encouraged other people to resist.

I have been a catalyst of a few organizations, as people got together and started mingling and arguing publicly, but, I don't know, a lot of people don't look at it that way.

DEAN BECKER: I want to come back to one other thought you brought up there, is that the, well, two stumbling blocks in your way. One is having millions of dollars, or at least a lot of money, to get involved in the industry, and secondarily, because you have a record, you will not be allowed to participate. You'll be banned.

They've done a similar thing in Canada, where they try to deny people with a record the ability to get involved, particularly Marc and Jodie Emery up there. But, you know, it, to me, it kind of boils down to, weed, basically, is cheap. It costs almost nothing to grow outdoors, and it is the prohibition, it is the mindset, it is reefer madness, which gives it basically the rationale, the reason, that it tends to cost so much when you go to a dispensary. Your thought there, Ed.

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: Exactly. You know, I would actually probably be able to take this law a lot better if I was allowed to grow, or anybody was allowed to grow in their backyard, you know, and I could, you know, we could grow our own products and could just buy or share or barter with my neighbor.

I mean, first of all, I've been in marijuana cultivation, and everybody can't do it. If you let everybody do it, out of a hundred people that try it, maybe twenty-five are actually successful anyway.

But, just say one of my neighbors down the street was allowed to grow it, and he grew something that I liked, and I can barter and trade something I like, and we would never even have to step into these conglomerates that they're trying to create.

But these politicians have accepted bribes from the, I call them canna-baggers. They've accepted bribes to, as they write -- as they wrote the law, to ban home growing. And then, and you have to understand, out of all the states that have legalized marijuana so far, New Jersey's going to be the only one that does not allow any home grow [sic: Washington state does not allow personal cultivation of marijuana for adult social use, though it does allow limited cultivation by people with a medical recommendation].

So, I think that undermines the law itself, if you can't home grow, but like I said, I could accept it a little better if it had home grow. And it doesn't matter, I can still grow my own, I'm still going to trade it, I'm still going to, you know, share it with other people.

And, but, this law will be outlawing any of those thoughts, still. It will outlaw anybody with a felony, and in my particular case, I openly argue the race issue, and I argue the race issue because most people can understand, over the last 50 years there's been a disproportionate attack and targeting of people of color.

I feel like I have, you know, when I was first arrested, I was arrested by the Camden County High Intensity Drug Task Force.

DEAN BECKER: DEA?

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: Yeah. Which targeted people like me. You know? Like, we were targets, and I became a victim, and, you know, that's how I got my first felony. It changed my entire life, it changed my entire way of thinking of things.

And now, thirty years, twenty years later from that arrest of me, now they say, okeh, we're going to legalize weed and everything's fair, you know, anybody that's got money and anybody that's got this and anybody that's got that, you can get into this.

But wait a minute. The whole unfairness, the whole racial disparities, racial targeting, racial discrimination in enforcing the marijuana laws, rendered me and people like me disenfranchised before the game started, before legalization got here.

So, to me, they're transferring or swapping out racist prohibition for racist legalization. The results, yeah, the results of the racist prohibition are being used to exclude people in the racist legalization scheme.

So I'm openly going to resist this, I'm openly going to bring these arguments to a jury of my peers, I openly am telling everyone that I think I'm unconvictable. I'm going to do this, I'm going to publicly do it, and let's see. Are they going to arrest me? Will they arrest me within ten minutes of me selling? Will they come a day later, will they let me go for a little while? Will they not understand?

Will people, you know, like, what are the politicians going to do? I think that politicians are already probably scratching their heads now, what are we going to do on Thursday? Maybe the prosecutors have already had conversations. I don't know. But I know this entire area, you know, the south Jersey, in between New York and Philadelphia, several newspapers are covering it, and what they're covering, to be honest with you, is jury nullification.

Anybody who believes in jury nullification should really be paying attention to this too, because, you know, like I tell the papers all the time, like, hey, I'm more than just a marijuana activist, to be honest with you. I think I'm a jury nullification activist. I bring in a few other arguments, free speech, and Sixth Amendment issues, with me all the time as a part of those two issues, marijuana and jury nullification.

But, you know, I think I'm opening eyes to jury nullification. There are people that never heard of it, these young kids never heard of it, and then there's other people that are like, wow, you know. I remember fourth grade social studies, he's right. You know, a jury can say whatever they want to say, a vote of the people, he's right. He can go to a church and sit in the church, and the choir won't send him to jail for weed.

DEAN BECKER: No, you're right, Ed. Going to be hell finding twelve people willing to convict somebody standing up, boldly and openly as you have. Ed, we're going to have to cut it off for now, but I want to hear from you next week, see how this turns out. Is there a website you might want to share with the listeners?

ED "NEW JERSEY WEEDMAN" FORCHION: Well, I tell you, if you just follow my facebook page, my facebook, you know, facebook.com, Edward Forchion, or facebook.com/njweedman, both of those are my facebook pages and I'll be posting whatever, and if, unfortunately, if I get held, when I get arrested, if I get held you'll be reading about it in the paper.

Personally, I don't think they're going to hold me. I don't think they're going to deny me bail. I think they're going to have to arrest me. I think they're going to have to give me a summons and this, that, and the other. And then the fight is on.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, severe blistering, bruising, tingling, numbness, pain, weakness, bleeding, dark urine, clay colored stools, jaundice, and death. Time's up! The answer: Nuvigil, a medication that promotes wakefulness.

ROB: My name's Rob, Texas Cannabis Coalition.

DEAN BECKER: Rob, you guys have an event coming up here beginning of April. Tell us about it, if you would.

ROB: Sure. So, we're having the first annual, hopefully, Texas Cannabis Expo in Houston, to be the, for 2019, we're having an educational event with a lot of speakers, a lot of vendors, and trying to get the word out to the city and the state.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it's a good thing, you know, to let the powers that be realize that the change is coming, and they need to just get used to it. Right?

ROB: That's right. This year we have sixty bills, this legislative session, and we're hoping to see some change.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us about the event. You said there's going to be a lot of speakers. Who's going to be there? Where's it going to be? Give us some details.

ROB: Sure. So, we have an amazing keynote speaker, Annie Epley. She's coming out of Dallas. She's the founder of Queens of Cannabis, and also runs an organization called Christian Cannabis. We also have a few guest speakers, including yourself, Dean Becker.

We also are going to have Ann Lee, the founder of RAMP, Andrea Wimberly, she's an epilepsy activist who works with us here at Texas Cannabis Coalition, Anita Sommers, a scientist and founder of CBD Genie, she's a CBD science around cannabis. We're going to have Renee Pena, the founder of Third Coast Hemp Company, as well as Cory Mendez, a lot of people know him around here, he's the director of Southeast Texas NORML and he does a lot of great things in the Texas area.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and I know those are some knowledgeable folks. It's a chance for those who maybe haven't been involved, or not very involved, to learn a little bit more, to, I always talk about arm yourself with ammunition, go to work on these politicians, because they really don't know that much. They just know what they've been handed down from reefer madness times, and if you have some studies and some true information, maybe you can help sway their opinion, move these laws, like we were talking about. Right?

ROB: That's right. People can also go to our website at www.TXCannabisCo.com to get some more information about the event, and also maybe some information about cannabis, and how they can assist in Texas to help us change the laws.

DEAN BECKER: And again, where is this going to be, the date and time for folks to show up?

ROB: Sure. So, this is the 2019 Texas Cannabis Expo. It's going to be located at the Hilton Garden Inn from 10 AM to 4 PM on April Sixth.

CHRISTOPHER WILDEMAN, PHD: My name's Chris Wildeman, I'm a sociologist and demographer. I'm a professor at Cornell, and most of my research focuses on estimated prevalence, causes, and consequences of contact with child protective services and the criminal justice system for American families.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Christopher, I, you know, I report drug war news, and I happened to run across an article online just last week, says a study, nearly half of Americans have had a family member jailed or imprisoned.

And I was just last week talking about a quote, I think it was from Beto O'Rourke, that one third of Americans have a family member who has been, you know, under those same circumstances, but, it just blew my mind that it's actually more than that. Let's talk about this study, what you guys presented there at Cornell.

CHRISTOPHER WILDEMAN, PHD: Sure. So, the, I mean I think kind of the key things to know about the study are that it uses an extremely reliable nationally representative dataset, so we used the AmeriSpeak panel. And, essentially, that's just a dataset that's meant to be representative of the US population.

So that's kind of one key component of the study, and then the second key component is that we designed these indicators of family member incarceration from scratch, so no -- no study to this point had really tried to measure the prevalence of family member incarceration sort of carefully, and so by marrying this kind of new question that we designed, or set of questions that we designed, with these nationally representative data, we were able to come up with these estimates.

And I think, you know, there are kind of three, I guess, core sort of takeaways that we were hoping folks would have, and the first is that family member incarceration is incredibly common in the US.

So, forty-five percent of American adults have ever had an immediate family member incarcerated.

DEAN BECKER: Forty-five percent.

CHRISTOPHER WILDEMAN, PHD: Forty-five, yep, forty-five percent, and when we say immediate family, what we mean is siblings, parents, children, current spouse, and then anyone you've had a child with.

And so, you know, immediate family is actually, we're talking about it in a pretty restricted way, so that's kind of the first core take home.

The second core take home is that African-Americans experience this event at higher rates than other groups, but even more historically advantaged groups experience this event at high rates, so African-Americans, about sixty percent have ever had an immediate family member incarcerated.

But even for whites who traditionally we think of as having much lower rates of criminal justice contact, the rate is still high, so it's forty-three percent for whites.

And then, the third kind of take home that we wanted folks to have is that sibling incarceration is actually the most prevalent for family member incarceration in the United States, which is, you know, maybe something that is more interesting to researchers than a broader audience, but that was something that all of us found really, really surprising.

DEAN BECKER: I follow the drug war on a daily basis, I see the horrors unfolding just in the US, and around the world, and, what you indicated there, this was the first such study to delve into this, which, I guess, I don't find surprising because those who run the drug war, those who think it is of benefit, you know, don't want to discuss the subject, don't want to delve into it any further, they like it the way it is.

And I guess what I'm trying to say here, Christopher, is that, well, it's just not surprising, that these numbers are so high, because it is prevalent. I think folks feel it. You know, if it's not every household, but, it's close to it, forty-five percent of every household, it's close to that as well, I would imagine.

CHRISTOPHER WILDEMAN, PHD: That's right. Yeah, and I think, I mean, you know, regardless of the reasons why this is the case, I mean, one of the things that kind of everybody on our research team has commented on is that getting funding for a study like this, that's really, you know, really, really focused on criminal justice contact, is an incredibly difficult thing.

You know, it's always something that the social science community, and I mean maybe the broader kind of community, thinks of as this sort of niche kind of thing that doesn't really profoundly affect people's lives, and I think hopefully, you know, now that these numbers are out there, it will be harder to ignore.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and I think there is an awakening, or, you know, I don't know, people are beginning to recognize that we've been doing it wrong, that we didn't need to do the mandatory minimums and, you know, three strikes you're going to prison forever, and all that stuff, that we have overdone it.

And we find ourselves with politicians, right now I think every Democrat is calling for the end of marijuana prohibition, which is, you know, a glorious thing from my perspective. But they're still unwilling to recognize that we're funding the terrorists, the cartels, the gangs, that we just have this massive, I don't know, enticement, if you will, the black market in drugs, that is luring our children into, you know, that particular endeavor, and, you know, in too many instances of getting them arrested and sent to jail, as you guys have discovered. Your thought there, Christopher.

CHRISTOPHER WILDEMAN, PHD: I mean, I think we really have to take seriously the idea that our sentences are too long for folks who are incarcerated for violent crimes, too, and that the only way that we're really going to get to a significantly lower rate of incarceration in the United States is by, you know, being less punitive toward folks who are committing, or who are convicted of violent crimes and all. And that's something that folks tend to not want to hear, I think.

DEAN BECKER: All right, folks, once again we've been speaking with Professor Christopher Wildeman with Cornell University, talking about their study. It's online, but it's within the Cornell Chronicle. You can locate it by going to News.Cornell.Edu, and looking for a study, nearly half of Americans have had family members jailed or imprisoned.

Christopher, let me just turn it over to you for a minute. With this study you guys have conducted, what's it going to lead you to next? What do you think we should investigate beyond this study?

CHRISTOPHER WILDEMAN, PHD: You know, I think the thing that we really need to push toward is a major study that's oriented toward better understanding of how criminal justice contact affects both the folks who experience it directly through their own incarceration and then also how it affects their loved ones.

SPOORTHI KAMEPALLI: My name is Spoorthi Kamepalli and I am the director of the Public Policy Competition, and the Policy Competition is hosted by the Baker Institute's Student Forum, which is basically this student organization that's affiliated with the Baker Institute at Rice University's campus.

DEAN BECKER: And, tell me about this competition. What is it about, what is it going to focus on?

SPOORTHI KAMEPALLI: So, every year the student forum hosts an annual competition that allows undergraduates to present their policy solutions for pressing issues around the nation, and this year the topic of the competition is domestic health and technology issues in the United States.

So we have talks on file informatics in healthcare, stem cell research, artificial intelligence and the opioid epidemic. Basically, undergraduates apply to the University of Houston, come up with their own policy proposals, and they write a paper and from those papers we selected six finalists to present their proposals to a panel of judges, and the top three presenters will receive cash prizes and publication of their papers in the Rice Journal of Public Policy.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's a prestigious recognition, I would think. Well, tell us when will this be, will folks be able to attend?

SPOORTHI KAMEPALLI: Yes. So, the event is Saturday, April Sixth, from about 8 AM to 1 PM, with awards to follow at 2 PM, and it's actually going to be hosted in the Baker Institute in the Kelly International Conference Facility, so people are welcome to attend. We'll have signage to direct them.

DEAN BECKER: I feel quite privileged that I've been requested to be one of the judges to review these presentations. Who else will be on the judges panel?

SPOORTHI KAMEPALLI: So, our judge panel is currently being finalized, but so far we have Ms. Elena Marks, who's the CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation. We have Doctor William Martin, the director of the Drug Policy Program at the Baker Institute. We have you, of course. We have Doctor Theresa Tran, who's an assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, and we have Doctor Isabelle Kusters, who's an assistant professor of public health at the University of Houston at Clear Lake.

DEAN BECKER: Again, if you will, recap for the folks when, where, and how this event will be.

SPOORTHI KAMEPALLI: The final policy competition will be held on Saturday April Sixth from 8 AM to 1 PM at the Baker Institute in the Kelly International Conference Facility

DEAN BECKER: Quite literally all we could squeeze in, and once again I remind you because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.