TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey marijuana advocate dubbed NJ Weedman says authorities "exaggerated big-time" in charging him with distributing pot from his restaurant and cannabis church.
Ed Forchion also said his arrest has drawn attention to his cause of legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.
"They just gave me another platform to continue my goal," Forchion told The Trentonian (http://bit.ly/1WXkjft ) on Thursday. "They're on the wrong side of history."
Forchion was arrested Wednesday along with 10 other people after a raid of his restaurant, NJ Weedman's Joint, and the attached cannabis church that he opened last year across the street from Trenton City Hall. He had sued Trenton police last month, saying they infringed on his religious rights by shutting down the cannabis temple for staying open too late.
He described a police estimate that $19,000 in marijuana was confiscated as crazy and disputed the distribution charges he faces because he says police didn't catch him selling marijuana to anyone.
"Just about everyone here is a smoker. So, yes, there's weed here," Forchion said. "But there's no distribution going on. They exaggerated big-time."
Acting Mercer County prosecutor Angelo Onofri said Thursday that the narcotics task force had received information that Forchion was distributing marijuana and had received complaints about "constant foot traffic in and out of the establishment at all hours."
Police say they found more than 1,100 grams of marijuana, 32 grams of edible marijuana candy, more than a pound of marijuana butter and a jar with $85 in it that said "Nothing is free donate."
Forchion said sharing is part of "the weed culture" and a lot of people come in with marijuana to share.
"I share because I care, and it's wrong for them to criminalize that," Forchion said. "Sharing is not selling. We're not running any kind of illegal enterprise out of here."
He said he's looking forward to taking the case to trial and believes the public is on his side regarding marijuana laws.
Information from: The (Trenton, N.J.) Trentonian, http://www.trentonian.com