Detective Ward received a signed warrant to raid Weedman’s business from Judge Anthony Massi on April 18, 2016. During the raid on April 27, the Weedmobile was towed away, despite the fact that the warrant did not allow the Weemobile to be taken. Two days after the raid Detective Ward amended the warrant, according to Weedman’s lawsuit.
The Weedmobile that was confiscated during the April raid was later impounded in August 2016. NJ’s civil forfeiture laws allowed Trenton police to confiscate his 1986 Ford E-150, which was covered in colorful images, including one of Weedman blowing smoke into the face of Uncle Sam. Weedman bought the vehicle in 2008 for $1,400 from a guy in California, and then paid an artist from California $300 cash, an ounce of weed and a bong, to graffiti the outside of it, before it was painted again in NJ in 2015. Weedman drove the Weedmobile across the country several times, saying in the Trentonian on August 15 that he was like Douglas MacArthur who rode the submarine back from the Phillipines in the general’s famous escape during WWII. Trenton police previously referred to the Weedmobile as “irritant.” Weedman said it was now reduced to a “block of red, white and green metal.” “They use asset forfeiture to steal your stuff,” Weedman said. “It’s crap. It’s entirely against what the Founding Fathers envisioned. The Fourth Amendment virtually doesn’t exist anymore because of the War of Drugs. I want my history back.”
On August 16, Weedman called the “Deminski and Doyle” show on 101.5 f.m. to inform them about the Weedmobile being impounded. He claimed police didn’t inform him that he had to retrieve his vehicle within 20 days or else it would be destroyed. Later on the radio show released an online article, referring to the Weedmobile as being “almost iconic” in the Garden State, under the title: “The NJ Weedmobile is no more. Is this legal stealing?” NJ 101.5 Tweeted a question at 2:13 P.M. on August 16: “Are New Jersey’s forfeiture laws, taking property without a conviction, fair?” After 120 votes, 13 percent voted yes that the forfeiture laws were fair, and 87 percent voted that they were not fair. This was supported by national research on the issue. Institute for Justice, a D.C.-based Libertarian think-tank, released a report that rated NJ’s civil forfeiture laws a D-, one of the worst ratings in the nation. The report revealed that the county prosecutors took more than $72 million in forfeitures from 2009-2013.
Weedman said the Weedmobile wasn’t worth much financially, but meant a great deal to him sentimentally. “It’s symbolic of the harassment I’ve been receiving for the last few months,” Weedman told the Trentonian. “It was done illegally. I think it was done personally and it was done with spite in their hearts. I’m not a rapist, a robber, a murder. I just smoke weed. The law’s wrong, not me. Twenty-six states have disregarded the federal government’s marijuana laws. I find it hypocritical that the state of New Jersey is violating federal law by having dispensaries but also prosecuting me.”
On August 23, Weedman’s attorney, Heyburn, filed the civil rights lawsuit in Mercer County Civil Court, accusing the city of Trenton, TPD, police director Ernest Parrey Jr., police captain Eldemiro Gonzalez, Detective Yolanda Ward and police officer Herbert Flowers of several allegations: “a high-ranking cop took steroids; another officer had sex with an underage girl while on duty; and police go unchallenged and unpunished for fabricating information about confidential informants in order to get around probable cause.” Prosecutor Onofri was also listed in the lawsuit and was accused of covering up widespread corruption in his department. The lawsuit accused the state forfeiture laws as being unjust, involving the Weedmobile being taken. A police spokesman and the prosecutor’s office refused to comment to the Trentonian on the situation. This was the second lawsuit that year filed by Weedman against the city (the first was the federal lawsuit over his church being closed before 11:00 P.M.).
The lawsuit continues to bring attention to the Weedmobile. NJ.com wrote on November 15 that Weedman’s second civil rights lawsuit for the raid moved to federal court. “In a civil rights lawsuit, you’re relying on the Constitution,” Heyburn said. Heyburn also said that since both suits were now in federal court, he planned on amending both suits and merge the two together. NJ.com devoted an article to Weedman on November 16, which listed his ten best tweets of that year. This included his August 16 tweet of a 2012 video, in which Weedman described how much the Weedmobile meant to him.
Weedman returned to Trenton City Council on October 6, wearing his weed necklace. In his Open Letter to City Council, Weedman said he was irked by the council’s “silence in regards to The Trenton Police Departments intentional attempt to drive me out of business. Maybe you were complicit with it?” In addition to destroying the Weedmobile and issuing the Joint with over 30 citations, Weedman believed Captain Gonzalez “terrorized” his patrons. MerryJane.com wrote an article on it on December 10, titled: “Police Harassment is Ruining Cannabis Activist Edward Forchion.”
The Weedmobile will be remembered by the thousands, and possibly even tens of thousands people who ever shared a joint with Weedman in it. Weedman is hoping to use this fact to help raise funds for a new Weedmobile. On the website IndieGoGo he raised $40 – 1% of his request for $7,500, as of December 12. The comical part is what Weedman wrote on his fundraiser: “The Trenton NJ, Police Department Destroyed the Weedmobile – Help create a new one to spite them.”