Warrant focus in medical marijuana case

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— The defense attorney for a medical marijuana patient charged with drug possession will have to challenge the legality of the search warrant used in New Jersey Superior Court before the case proceeds in Sparta Municipal Court.

Defense Attorney Nicholas Pompelio said he will file a motion to suppress the warrant next week.

Pompelio, of the law firm DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, David & Lehrer, P.C., is representing 24-year-old Scott Waselik, who is a state medical marijuana patient but is charged with drug possession.

Late last year Waselik was stabbed near the armpit by his former roommate Kevin Rios, according to police. Police responded to the home, where they recovered more than 70 grams of marijuana along with drug paraphernalia, according to Sgt. John-Paul Beebe, of the Sparta Police Department.

According to Beebe, the marijuana was not obtained or possessed legally. Both men were charged with possession.

Waselik has disputed the charges, saying he has used marijuana to treat Crohn’s Disease and has been in the state’s medical marijuana program since 2011.

The defense is now arguing that the police had an invalid warrant and should not have been in the home to see the drugs, Pompelio said.

Sparta Municipal Court Judge John E. Mulhern stayed Friday’s proceedings until the parties got a ruling from superior court, where the warrant was issued.

Supporters and fellow medical marijuana patients planned a rally for Waselik. Approximately eight people hung out around a Lincoln Town Car parked across the street from the municipal building. There, patients smoked marijuana without disruption from police.

Beebe said some of the activists contacted police for clarification on the laws prior to the rally, and the smoking was done lawfully.

“We’re here to keep the peace,” Beebe said. “We’re the police. We don’t want laws to be broken in front of us.”

Charles Kwiatkowski, who uses marijuana to treat his multiple sclerosis, said he was there to support Waselik and thought it was wrong that he was facing possession charges.

Stephen Cuspilich was also part of the group gathered outside the courthouse. He is also a medical marijuana patient.

“I’m supporting a fellow sick person who actually has the same disease that I have,” Cuspilich said.

Waselik declared Friday’s hearing a victory.

“I’m glad the judge is looking into the police upholding the law,” Waselik said.

Waselik said that the lack of an altercation between the activists and law enforcement “proved” his supporters won the argument, and predicted it will be the first of many victories throughout his case.

The activists gathered outside were also encouraged by Friday’s proceeding.

“It’s a good result that [the warrant is] getting analyzed,” Kwiatkowski said. “I hope it’s enough to get the case dismissed.”

The case is being prosecuted by Sparta Township Attorney Jonathan McMeen.

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