St. Johns County couple takes medical marijuana dispute to federal court

Yandells demand to be allowed back into their home

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Kelly Goddard - Campaign Analyst

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A St. Johns County couple appeared in federal court Monday afternoon claiming the county irreparably harmed the couple by not allowing them into their home after they were arrested in February. Deputies say four dozen marijuana plants were found growing in their home. 

Scott and Marsha Yandell have not been allowed back in their home since investigators found their large marijuana growing operation. 

The Yandells believe that St. Johns County is illegally keeping them from their home and that they have the legal right to use medical marijuana. While in custody, they said that they left their pet fish behind weeks ago and the county has cut off their power. 

"A lot of these statements that have come out from the county simply are not true," said legal advisor Christopher Ralph, "We have to remember, these are patients. These are not criminals that there's been no criminal charges launched against these individuals." 

News4Jax was not allowed in the courtroom, but the attorney for St. Johns County argued 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. 

However, outside of the courthouse the attorney representing St. Johns County did not comment.

Judge Marcia Howard delayed her decision until Wednesday, asking the Yendells' attorneys to better describe their claim that St. Johns County has irreparably harmed the couple by not allowing them into their home. 

"On Dec. 15, the federal law changed in relation to medical marijuana. In it, it defunded the federal government in interfering in state laws that they named in the amendment related to medical cannabis. Florida was clearly listed in this bill signed by Barack Obama," said Ralph. 

An issue the defense faces is that the judge believes the county will grant access if the couple hires a certified industrial hygienist to inspect the home and determine if the chemicals inside have made the home unsafe.

The couple will be back in court Wednesday at 3 p.m. 

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