ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Johns County couple arrested after a marijuana grow and hash oil extraction operation was discovered in their home on Wednesday each posted $14,500 bond and they were released Thursday.
Marsha and Scott Yandell were arrested after tips from sources in the neighborhood prompted deputies to obtain a search warrant. Inside they reported finding dozens of marijuana plants, as well as a hash oil extraction equipment that included gas tanks and other flammable items.
Their lawyer, Ian Christensen, said the couple has debilitating conditions, and an independent medical doctor who reviewed the Yandells' records said that marijuana was medically necessary since conventional methods have not worked.
"Both Mr. and Mrs. Yandell are upstanding members of the community," Christensen told the judge during a first-appearance hearing Thursday. "They always maintained employment, don't have a prior criminal record."
The lawyer said Marsha Yandell has cervical spondylosis, endometriosis, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia. The lawyer also said she is a registered nurse.
To that last point, Judge Michael Traynor replied, "You ought to know, as a nurse, the danger to your license of doing what you did. I don't want to discuss it any further."
The Sheriff's Office is aware of the couple's medical claims and is looking into their validity.
At least one vehicle, a Corvette, which had a black screen that could be lowered over the license plate, was taken from the house Wednesday. Authorities said the hash extraction setup was very elaborate.
"We had not seen many of these in the last several years, but what we are seeing on in the last several months (is) more of these operations, but this one being the most profound and most highly technological so far," said Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan.
This is one of about a handful of arrests for hash oil that the county sheriff's office has made in the last few years. Last week, the Clay County Sheriff's office said they have had no recent arrest. On Friday of last week, JSO said that they don't track hash oil arrests separately, but that they have had 384 drug arrests in the first six week of 2015.
News4Jax spoke to neighbors who said they are upset that the couple has returned back to the neighborhood.
As of Thursday evening, the couple is staying with neighbors in the community, but the president of the homeowner's association said the couple's activity is unlawful and doesn't want them there anymore.
"This is the biggest grow house St. Johns County has ever had. And it's not going to be here at The Vinings Homeowners Association. It's just not going to happen," said Susan Mosley.
Mosely is on the board of The Vinings Homeowner's Association and said she's never seen anything like this before.
"They brought out 74 cannabis trees that look like Christmas trees," she said. "They brought out bottles, containers of who knows what, they had cooking material, they had more chemicals in that house that they had bedroom and furniture to sit on."
In less than 24 hours after the couple had bonded out of jail Thursday night, they returned to the neighborhood and sat on the sidewalk, which prompted neighbors to call police.
"They're not going to sit on the sidewalk. None of the neighbors are comfortable with them being here. There are plenty of places for them to go. There are plenty of homeless shelters in Jacksonville," said Mosely.
"What people don't realize is that the device that was in there is not an explosive hash-making device," said Christopher Ralph, the couple's spokesperson. "It is a CO2 extractor that extracts cannabinoids from a plant and does it so that there is absolutely no solvent left in the plant. And that is the only way to create a true medicine out of the plant."
Mosely said the homeowners association is taking action.
"We made contact with the homeowner. He is in the process of contacting a lawyer to civilly evict them," Mosely said. "The homeowners association, we're going to get in contact with our law firm tomorrow and see what grounds we have to actually do something to have them physically removed from the community."