Bummer: Cannabis Crusader Can't Change Name to NJWeedman.com
Ed Forchion, a New Jersey resident, has managed a Rastafarian temple in Los Angeles and operated a medical marijuana dispensary since 2009. He has devoted his adult life to promoting the legalization of marijuana.
Forchion has a national reputation as a marijuana advocate and is popularly known as NJWeedman. He is perennial candidate for various New Jersey elected offices, where he campaigns on a single issue, marijuana legalization, as part of the subtly-named Legalize Marijuana Party. As part of his cannabis campaign, Forchion operates a Web site, NJWeedman.com, which discusses his efforts to legalize the drug.
Forchion unsuccessfully petitioned the New Jersey state courts to change his name to NJWeedman.com in 2001. Recognizing that California, where medical marijuana is legal, would be far more sympathetic to his cause, Forchion petitioned the Superior Court of Los Angeles County to legally change his name to NJWeedman.com. The Los Angeles court also denied his petition.
Why can't NJWeedman catch a name-changing break? Here are five reasons from the California Appellate Court:
- The Chronic. A statutory name change to NJWeedman.com would last indefinitely. Forchion might lose the use of his website by failing to make periodic registration payments or by breaching the registration agreement. In that event, the website name (NJweedman.com) could be registered to someone else and, at the same time, Forchion could keep his new personal name (NJweedman.com). If both parties used that name to conduct business, confusion might result.
- Fuzzy Logic. Even if Forchion were allowed to adopt NJWeedman.com as his personal name, and he properly maintained it as the name of his website, the name might be so similar to another site name or trademark that the multiple usages would create confusion.
- Take Two and Pass. The name change would associate Forchion's new personal name with the website's advice that individuals violate the law in several respects. A name change should not have that consequence.
- Reefer Madness. Given Forchion's strong ties to New Jersey, and his failed attempt in 2001 to obtain the same name change there, California, as a matter of comity, should not grant Forchion the relief his home state has already considered and denied.
- Convicted. Though not explicitly stated, we think that the court recognized that this name change might jeopardize Forchion's defense in a pending New Jersey drug charge; judges and juries could hardly remain impartial in deciding NJWeedman.com's guilt or innocence for -- you guessed it -- marijuana possession.
Ed Forchion lost this round of the name game, but we have a suggestion that might help in his next petition: Drop the .com and try again. There are plenty of people with the surname Weedman. (Googled it.)
What other objection could the court possibly have to the name NJ Weedman?