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Marijuana activist pledges more protests Plans Dec. 6th, liberty bell smoke-out

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MOUNT HOLLY - Marijuana legalization advocate Ed Forchion is getting ready
to complete a 20-month parole term for drug possession, but don't expect
the self-described "nj-weedman" to keep quiet once that term is done.

To celebrate the end of his parole, Forchion said he plans to go to the
Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on Dec. 6th, when the parole term ends. He
said he will smoke marijuana with other activists in front of the national
symbol of freedom as "a patriotic thing" and a religious demonstration.

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.

Forchion, who lives in Pemberton Township, learned yesterday that he is
scheduled for release from the state's Intensive Supervision Program on
Dec. 3. He has been enrolled in the parole program since early last year in
connection with an October 2000 conviction for possessing 40 pounds of

The program calls for mandatory urine tests and other restrictions

Forchion met with the program's resentencing panel yesterday for a review
hearing, and the board informed him that his term would end Dec. 3.

Forchion served more than a year of a 10-year state prison term before
being released from prison in April 2002. He was then enrolled in the
parole program for a 20-month term.

If he violates the terms of the program before Dec. 3, he will have to
return to prison.

Forchion is no stranger to demonstrations at government sites. He has been
arrested for smoking marijuana inside the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton
and in front of the Burlington County Administration Building in Mount Holly.

He said he has more than one intention for his Dec. 6t visit to the Liberty
Bell. While there, he will also officially launch a 2004 run for the U.S.
House of Representatives in the 3rd District, which is currently
represented by Republican Jim Saxton of Mount Holly.

Forchion has run unsuccessfully for federal, state and county offices
several times using a marijuana-legalization platform. This time, Forchion
said, he will run for the first time as a member of the U.S. Marijuana Party.

John Reitmeyer
Burlington County Times