Pubdate: Sun, 01 May 2016
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2016 The Trentonian
Author: Jeff Edelstein


Henry Gunther was an unhappy man, according to stories told years 
later by the BBC and The Baltimore Sun. He was unhappy for good 
reason, as well: It was World War I, he was fighting on the Western 
Front, and he had recently been demoted back to the rank of private.

But the worst was yet to come for Gunther.

At 10:59 a.m. on November 11, 1918, outside the village of 
Villedevant-Chaumont, north of Verdun, Gunther, acting on his own and 
despite the shouts of his fellow soldiers, ran with his bayonet in 
hand and single-handedly attempted to attack a heavily fortified 
German position. In fact, not only did his fellow soldiers tell him 
to stop, the Germans also yelled at him to stop.

But he didn't stop, and one machine gun blast later, he was dead.

And why was everyone telling him to stop? Because the war was set to 
end in a minute. Literally. The armistice had been signed, to go into 
effect at 11 a.m. Everyone on both sides of the battle, including 
Gunther, knew. But Gunther, perhaps in a last-ditch effort to prove 
his courage, as opined by writer James M. Cain, died an unnecessary 
and foolish death.

Ed Forchion, aka NJWEEDMAN, is starting to remind me of Gunther.

Now listen, I go back over 15 years with the Weedman. In fact, he 
credits me with getting his movement into the limelight. Back in 
2000, he showed up unannounced at the paper and asked to speak to a 
reporter. I pulled the short straw. He had a simple question: "You 
want to see me light up a joint in the State House?" My answer was 
equally simple: "Yep."

An hour later, he's in the state Assembly chambers, former Hamilton 
Mayor Jack Rafferty is delivering a speech, and Forchion takes his 
clothes off to reveal a Keystone Kops-era jail uniform. He then lit 
up a joint. Took a few minutes for everything to register, but a pair 
of state troopers eventually took him out and the next day he's on 
the front page for the first time with the headline, "JOINT 

 From there, Forchion's story has more twists than a too-tight 
doobie. But one thing is for certain: When Forchion started his 
quest, marijuana was illegal in all 50 states. Today, it's perfectly 
legal in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and D.C. It's been 
decriminalized in 17 other states. Nearly 60 percent of Americans 
believe marijuana should be legalized, up from 12 percent in 1970, 
according to a Gallup poll.

In short: While the war might not be over, armistices have been 
signed all over the place.

But not in New Jersey, not under the rule of Gov. Chris Christie. 
Give it a few years, put someone who agrees with 60 percent of the 
country in the governor's chair, and I promise you New Jersey will 
make it legal.

But in the meantime, it's illegal here. And Forchion, despite the 
unheard pleas of his friends and enemies, is still charging at the front lines.

I suppose it makes Forchion something of a folk hero, constantly 
willing to put himself through the judicial system in order to make a 
point. I happen to agree with his point, to be clear. I believe 
marijuana should be 100 percent legal and I think the 25,000 people 
who get arrested in New Jersey each year for possession should have 
their records cleared.

But right now? Not legal. Not at all. And yet Forchion - who has a 
brilliant, sharp mind - keeps running into the buzzsaw, keeps 
Gunthering himself for no good reason. Yes, sure, you can argue he's 
still fighting the fight here in New Jersey, battling for his rights. 
And he is. But he doesn't have to. Most of America agrees with him, 
along with 21 states and D.C. New Jersey will come around soon 
enough, along with the other holdouts.

So Ed, a direct plea here: After you clear up this latest brush with 
the law, how about putting down the bayonet. It doesn't have to keep 
ending like this for you. There's a happily ever after out there in 
Colorado or Washington, Oregon or Alaska. Move down to D.C. Or 
somewhere where marijuana is decriminalized. You won the war. Enjoy it.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom