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Proposition 215 Can Be Used Retroactively and to Counter Marijuana Transportation Charges, Says State Appeals Court


August 1997

California's new medical marijuana law, Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use under certain conditions, can be used as a defense for cases that arose earlier and were not yet final when the initiative passed last November, ruled the 1st District Court of Appeal in California on August 15. The court also ruled that Proposition 215, which specifically provides a defense for the charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana for medical use, can also be used as a defense to charges of transporting marijuana, provided the amount and method of transport are "reasonably related to the patient's current medical needs" ("Court: Prop. 215 partially retroactive," The Oakland Tribune, August 16, 1997, p. A3; "Retroactive use ruled OK for marijuana law," Orange County Register-News, August 16, 1997, p. 4).

The 3-0 ruling entitles a San Francisco woman, Sudi Pebbles Trippet, to a new trial on felony charges of possessing and transporting about two pounds of marijuana. In October 1994, she was stopped by a Kensington police officer for an equipment violation, where marijuana and hand-rolled cigarettes were found in Trippet's possession. In a hearing in Contra Costa County Superior Court before Proposition 215 passed, Trippet was convicted of the charges, despite her claim that the marijuana was for religious and medical purposes.