A District of Colombia Superior Court Judge has found Michigan multiple sclerosis patient and medical marijuana user Renee Emry Wolfe guilty of possessing marijuana in then-Rep. Bill McCollum's (R-FL) Capitol Hill office in 1998.
Wolfe lit up in McCollum's office during a protest against a resolution he introduced in the House that day saying that marijuana is a dangerous drug and should not be legalized for medical use. Wolfe was part of a larger demonstration and carried a banner that said: "I use marijuana for medical purposes."
Wolfe's attorney, Jeffrey Orchard, told the court that Wolfe originally intended only to communicate her views about the issue to the congressman, but the tense environment in the hostile office caused Wolfe to believe she was about to suffer another episode of spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. She then lit up a joint to reduce the symptoms, Orchard said.
Orchard told the judge Wolfe had a medical necessity defense, but Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters rejected that argument, ruling that there was little evidence that Wolfe was suffering a spasticity attack and that Wolfe had not exhausted legal alternatives.
"I do believe Mrs. Wolfe is guilty of possession," Duncan-Peters said. "I don't think a necessity defense has been made out in this case."
But Judge Duncan-Peters went easy on sentencing Wolfe. She will have to pay $50 court costs and do 50 hours of community service. The judge did not sentence Wolfe to any sort of judicial supervision, which could have sent Wolfe back before the court for smoking marijuana.
"I would prefer that (Wolfe) return to her home and deal with her medical condition in whatever way she and her doctor deem appropriate," Duncan-Peters said.
"If part of her purpose or all of her purpose is to educate, I certainly consider myself educated during the process of this trial," the judge said after sentencing.
Wolfe told the Associated Press she was encouraged by the judge's remarks.
Nearly 70 percent of District of Columbia voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 1998, but successive Congresses have blocked the will of voters in the nation's capital.