BOISE — Had she lived 40 miles to the west, a Meridian woman’s attorney said in court earlier this month, she would not have been in court at all that day. Instead, she pleaded guilty to both misdemeanors she faced.

Molina Jones, 37, was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use. That’s because Jones, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than 10 years ago, she said, used marijuana as a painkiller.

Magistrate Judge James Cawthon sentenced her Feb. 8 to 16 hours of community service and ordered her to pay fines and court costs totaling $357.10, according to court records.

On Sept. 25 Meridian police officers noticed evidence Jones had used the drug, her attorney, Simon Billinge, said in court. Billinge noted she cooperated fully with the officers and let them into the residence.

“I think there was a pot pipe and a smell of marijuana,” Billinge said.

He added Jones was polite to the officers and let them inside.

She’d tried using legal medication to treat the pain associated with multiple sclerosis, Billinge said, but those drugs had adverse side effects for her. Marijuana didn’t come with those side effects, he said.

In Idaho, possession of any amount of marijuana is a crime. It is not possible to obtain the drug for medical purposes as it is in other states, and possession of more than 3 ounces is a felony.

Jones did not have enough of the drug to trigger the felony distinction. She had used hard drugs in the past, she said — methamphetamine and crack cocaine — but she’d been clean since 2006, she said.

“I moved to Idaho that day — March 15, 2006,” she said.

A little more than six months after that, in November 2006, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition which, Billinge pointed out, made it hard to find work and meant she was currently unemployed. When she walked to and from the defendant’s table Feb. 8, she did so with a limp.

Despite Idaho’s laws, Jones explicitly said she felt moving to the state had saved her.

“Idaho saved my life, and I’m grateful for it,” she said.

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