JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a St. Johns County husband and wife arrested for growing marijuana in their home can go back to their home to collect their belongings.
Scott and Marsha Yandell took the county to court, claiming the county irreparably harmed them by not allowing them into their home after they were arrested in February. Deputies said four dozen marijuana plants were found growing in their home.
The Yandells have not been allowed back in their home since investigators found their large marijuana growing operation.
The attorney for St. Johns County argued earlier this week that the home was a manufacturing facility for illegal drugs. She also argued the couple had an electrician go into the house to alter the wiring to accommodate their grow operation.
The Yandells said St. Johns County was illegally keeping them from their home and that they have the legal right to use medical marijuana.
Judge Marcia Howard agreed Wednesday, giving the Yandells a temporary restraining order against St. Johns County and saying the county has to allow the Yandells to access the property for 14 days at most. The ruling essentially said the county did not follow its procedures in barring the Yandells from the home.
"We're real excited," said Marsha Yandell. "It's been 35 days today that we've been taken away from our basics of living. Every piece of our life is a good piece that we can put back together real soon."
"We agree there's a lot of these places that need to be eradicated, but that doesn't give reason to or right is to violate someone's rights based on that fact, that someone's using it as a medicine and they're taking care of themselves does not make it the same thing as an illegal growhouse that's trafficking it all over the place," said Christopher Ralph, Yandell's legal advisor.
After the 14 days, the restraining order expires and the county can move forward with whatever it wants to do with the home. It's possible it will be demolished.
"We do not understand why St. Johns continues to witch hunt, why they continue to think I'm a criminal," said Scott Yandell. "We're very far into this investigation and yet to see any charges, charges are still open. This is a great win for us today."
The county has a hearing on the issue on March 23.