Remember the "Weed Man?" No, not the NJ guy who tried to change his name to "NJWeedman.com"—the Times Square Weed Man who became ubiquitous around Midtown for carrying a sign reading "Help! I need money for weed." Last summer, he filed a lawsuit against the city complaining that his First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated by repeated arrests. And now it seems that a judge has agreed with him.
Joshua Long, a 30-year-old North Carolina native, generally stands outside the Planet Hollywood on Broadway, between 45th and 46th streets with his sign—he claims to make about $200 during a four- or five-hour shift. In his lawsuit, he argued that he had been illegally harassed and arrested “while lawfully begging and promoting marijuana tolerance.” Judge Shira A. Scheindlin has now approved a stipulation in which the city agreed that the police would use their “best efforts” not to harass or arrest Long without cause.
Long, who was arrested five times between May 2010 and June 2011, is still seeking compensatory and punitive damages and lawyers’ fees. Ryan Shaffer, an assistant corporation counsel in the city’s Law Department, said the stipulation was not an admission of wrongdoing, and that it “simply recognizes what has always been understood: to the extent that Mr. Long is behaving lawfully and not blocking pedestrian traffic, he can stand on the sidewalk with his sign.”
Of course, the most ironic thing about all this is that Long claims he doesn't even smoke marijuana anymore!