Weed-Focused Nightclub Owner Says ‘Green Rush’ Is Coming To Miami
When he is in New Jersey, Ed Forchion, also known as NJWeedman, drives around in a Weedmobile, a white SUV that says "Pot Trooper" and has a flashing green emergency light. Soon, he will be hitting the streets of Miami, driving a red, yellow and green golf cart with a golden spliff on the roof that blows smoke from a fog machine. He'll whisk patrons to his new club in Wynwood called The Joint of Miami.
"What I see coming to Miami is a green rush," Forchion said.
He said a wave of high-profile people in the cannabis industry is making moves in Miami, among them California-based Cookies, which got one of the state's 22 coveted medical marijuana licenses and is expected to open a dispensary soon.
Forchion visited Miami in February and within two months had inked a deal for retail space.
"I got a five-year lease. I paid two years upfront," Forchion said.
Over the years, Forchion went from being an Army recruit to a trucker making covert weed deliveries to fashioning himself as a counterculture civil rights hero. He fought against the War on Drugs, founded the Legalize Marijuana Party of New Jersey in the 1990s and has run for governor, Congress and the Burlington County Board of County Commissioners.
When New Jersey voters finally did approve recreational marijuana last year and it became evident that felons would be shut out and permits would cost millions, Forchion defiantly sold marijuana out of his smoke shop/restaurant across from City Hall in Trenton and dared police to arrest him. He likened many of today's rich, White cannabis entrepreneurs to Christopher Columbus, taking advantage of people like him who had been smoking and dealing weed for decades.
"Now they call us the legacy markets," he said.
For a time, Forchion went to Los Angeles, where he ran a Rastafarian temple and passed out marijuana to sick people. He has served time in jail and used the court battles to rally supporters.
Now that marijuana is being legalized in states and municipalities around the country, Forchion said he feels validated — and also entitled to capitalize. With his five children, the self-described "ganjapreneur" said he hopes to expand in additional states. He is in talks with potential investors in Atlanta and Detroit. The opening of his Miami business was filmed for a reality show being shopped to networks, and there are plans to position the whole family as "The Kardashians of Kush" for another potential reality show.
In Florida, medical marijuana is legal but recreational isn't. However, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office announced in 2020 that it wouldn't prosecute minor marijuana cases. Florida has 22 companies licensed to operate more than 200 dispensaries throughout the state. Licenses can cost $50M, the Miami Herald reported.
The Joint of Miami, located at 2010 Northwest Miami Court, won't sell marijuana, but "I'm catering to the potheads," Forchion said.
"The music and stuff that I'm getting there, the people I'm getting: stoners. Totally," he said.
Entertainment features dancers, DJs, fire spinners, comedy, spoken word, reggae, hip-hop, jazz and even a Grateful Dead cover band. It has a full bar and a food truck on-site. Memberships can be bought for $420 or $1K for VIP access. Forchion's 23-year-old son King "Krefiii" Forchion will serve as CEO of The Joint of Miami.
In recent years, stakeholders in Wynwood have battled over the neighborhood's direction, whether to cater to a party-centric crowd or well-heeled young professionals. Miami Beach has struggled with a party scene that sometimes has turned violent, leading to calls to shut down bars and restaurants.
Forchion said he was aware of shootings in Wynwood, too, but felt that those were anomalies and the area attracts mostly hipsters. His venture in Miami is a business move.
"This is not an activist move," he said.
He said he hopes to have fun, make money and be part of a scene, but he vowed to fight any legal challenges if necessary.
"Any police department that wants to dedicate that much energy to a weak case is wasting money," Forchion said. "And I'm the type that, I don't take plea bargains. You give me a charge, I'm gonna take it to the jury. Let's see if we get 12 people that agree I should be getting prison for selling marijuana."
King Forchion said in a statement that, as a child, he watched his father fight to legitimize cannabis.
"Legalization and inclusion are still an ongoing battle, yes, but The Joint of Miami is setting a new precedent in entertainment," he said. "Because of his work and pioneers like him, cannabis is a more accepted part of the culture for my generation."