In what is being reported as the first case of its kind in the state of California, a Sonoma County medical marijuana patient will be allowed to seek financial restitution from four convicted robbers who stole six pounds of medi-pot from him in 2009. (Sonoma County is the northernmost and the largest of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties). 

Dressed as police officers, the four thugs broke into the Healdsburg home of Michael Steffens in October 2009 and subsequently beat him and tied him up with a phone cord. The thieves then loaded Steffens’s possessions and six pounds of medical marijuana they found drying in his barn into a U-Haul. Fortunately the quartet of crooks were apprehended, tried and convicted, with three of them still serving time.

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On January 20, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Gary A. Medvigy told Steffens that he‘d consider awarding restitution for the stolen medicine as long as Steffens was in compliance with state and local medi-pot laws. Steffens, 51 and a carpenter by trade, uses medicinal cannabis to treat neck pain. Steffens’s attorney is expected to ask for $18,000 and Steffens himself is expected to testify at the February 14 hearing. 

The defendants are expected to challenge the restitution request on the grounds that Steffens was violating Sonoma County medical pot regulations. However, Steffens and another family member reportedly possessed approximately three pounds each, which is the Sonoma County possession threshold for an individual patient.

Unfortunately, Steffens is still struggling to receive state money for the post-traumatic stress he has suffered in the wake of the brutal home invasion. Steffens’s attorney suggesting his client was turned down by the district attorney’s victim-assistance division because the case involves marijuana.

While that bias may remain in place, hopefully a victory for Steffens in the restitution hearing will encourage other victimized pot patients to seek financial compensation from those who robbed them and not live in fear of being prosecuted themselves for coming forth and seeking justice.

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