Forchion’s arrest garnered him 447 days in prison, leaving Madaio not only publicly fighting for his release, but also for the survival of their business, which she solely funded during his incarceration. With Madaio’s financial support and relentless efforts, a journey fully documented on Facebook by both parties, Forchion was eventually cleared of charges. The two became Bonnie & Clyde archetypes for some six years, rallying to spearhead the legalization of marijuana in Trenton.
NJWeedman’s Joint’s ambiance, created by Madaio, mirrored an actual marijuana grow room with curtains, tablecloths and chairs designed and fashioned after marijuana leaves. There were also live, outdoor music performances and show offerings which were streamed online. The locale was a popular tourist spot and media darling, and Madaio in due course, opened The Stash Spot, a boutique accessories and smoke paraphernalia shop, inside the business.
Over the years, Madaio estimates she invested over a half-million dollars into NJWeedman’s Joint, almost financially crippling herself. She asserts that she was forced out of the business when the establishment became profitable. NJWeedman’s Joint, the restaurant, has since spawned numerous spinoff enterprises including a lucrative, though not yet legal, marijuana dispensary in Trenton, The Joint of Miami, a hip hop nightclub and Forchion Cruises in Miami, FL.
“I think it’s important I share all of my truth, the good and the bad, the losses and the victories,” asserts Madaio. “I’m in a place now where I’m finally empowered as a DV survivor because the truth is, the entire ordeal nearly killed me. The physical, mental, and emotional battering were one thing, but to be forced from my business was beyond devastating. My new storefront, The Weed Stalk LLC, is symbolic on so many levels. I’m the tiny seed that was covered in dirt and darkness, yet I was still able to grow and reach for the light.”
Madaio, a lifelong resident of New Jersey, was recently awarded a conditional recreational license from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which allows her to proceed with securing a final recreational license to operate The Weed Stalk as a marijuana dispensary. As the sole proprietor of one of the first few woman-owned dispensaries in the state, her goal is for The Weed Stalk to be a safe and supportive haven for all women in the cannabis community.
However, her inclusion on Jay Lassiter's "Insider NJ 100: Cannabis Power List" is the icing on the cake. She is ranked as among the state’s most politically influential voices in the cannabis movement, including advocates, lobbyists, lawyers, caretakers and industry professionals positioning themselves in New Jersey’s budding multibillion dollar cannabis industry.
“My former partner, always led me to believe that without him, I would have no identity. Like so many DV survivors, I was made to feel like my role, my support and my financing was inconsequential to the bigger picture.” reveals Madaio. “But I’m still here, I’m thriving and more importantly, my contribution to our community is still being seen and recognized. As a nurse and a mother, I’m a natural caregiver so my biggest embarrassment was how I thought I let down my kids. Their future was almost stolen from them. If just one woman hears my story and is empowered, I am eternally grateful.”
Madaio has an undergraduate degree in criminal justice (BSCJA) as well as in Nursing (RNBSN). While currently working full time, she envisions The Weed Stalk providing work and income closer to home and nearer her special needs son. NJWeedman’s Joint was once called ‘the happiest place on earth’ by Extraction Magazine and Madaio’s mission is to resurrect that vibe again. She is not just a facade of happiness, it's authentic now and no longer veiled under the guise of repressive misogyny.
Per the recent wave of DV survivor related docuseries on streaming platforms like Netflix, including “Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives,” “Untold, Deal With the Devil,” and “Dirty John,” perhaps her #MeToo marijuana story will be told onscreen as well.