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Constitutionality Of New Dna Requirement Challenged

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CAMDEN - Marijuana legalization advocate Ed "njweedman" Forchion has
completed a 20-month parole term for drug possession, but his legal
problems are not yet over.

On Dec. 2, the day before state officials officially notified Forchion
he was discharged from the Intensive Supervision Program, the Camden
County Prosecutor's Office filed court papers alleging the Pemberton
Township resident failed to comply with a new state law mandating
every person convicted of a crime provide a sample of DNA for
inclusion in a database.

Forchion has challenged the constitutionality of the law. He believes
it is an after-the-fact form of punishment that is also an illegal
invasion of his privacy.

A hearing has been scheduled for Friday before a judge in Camden to
determine whether to hold Forchion in contempt for failing to provide
a DNA sample, and whether to extend his parole until he does,
according to court papers.

Forchion said last week he has no plans to comply. "Yes, I'm in
contempt of court, but the court is in contempt of the Constitution,"
Forchion said.

John Wynne, the assistant Camden County prosecutor who is bringing the
contempt charge against Forchion, could not be reached for comment.

Forchion had been enrolled in the Intensive Supervision Program since
early last year in connection with an October 2000 conviction for
possessing 40 pounds of marijuana. He served more than a year of a
10-year state prison term before being released in April 2002.
DisplayAds ('Middle'); The parole program requires all participants to
be employed full time, adhere to a nightly curfew, submit to frequent
drug and alcohol testing and perform six hours of community service
each month. Participants also must attend drug- and alcohol-treatment

In a Nov. 27 letter to the state Division of Criminal Justice and Gov.
James E. McGreevey, Forchion was adamant against providing a DNA sample.

"It wasn't part of my plea bargain and I'm not agreeing to surrender
my DNA," he wrote.

After he was notified of his release from the program, Forchion said
he went to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and smoked marijuana to

Forchion says he practices the Rastafarian religion and contends he
uses marijuana for religious ritual. He believes a federal court
ruling protects his right to use marijuana for religious purposes on
federal property, such as the grounds surrounding the Liberty Bell.

He was not arrested, he said.

"I'd test positive (for marijuana) if they put me back in the
program," Forchion admitted.

Pubdate: Wed, 10 Dec 2003
Source: Burlington County Times (NJ)
Copyright: 2003 Calkins Newspapers. Inc.
Contact: http://www.phillyburbs.com/feedback/content_bct.shtml
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