Lawyer Said Their Weed Plants Were Legal—and It Landed Them in Jail – Daily Beast
Marsha Yandell was getting ready for lunch when a SWAT team appeared on her lawn and shouted over a bullhorn to smoke her out.
It was February 2015, and the former registered nurse tried to tell Florida cops that she had paperwork for her cannabis plants. The documents, she claimed, showed she and her hubby Scott were allowed to grow medical marijuana.
Yandell was tackled and zip-tied once she emerged, while her husband phoned their attorney from inside the house. The lawyer, Ian James Christensen, had legally greenlighted their home-grow operation and provided them with a patient ID card.
Scott, then an engineer, was cuffed and charged, too. The couple faced a slew of felonies, including manufacturing cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to sell or deliver, and decades behind bars.
The Yandells lost their home and their jobs. They took a plea deal in return for $15,000 in fines, three years of probation, and 100 hours of community service, court records show.
Nine months after their arrests, Christensen closed his law firm. He eventually left Florida and faces a federal lawsuit by the Yandells accusing him of legal malpractice. (A default judgment against Christensen was entered this month.)
Last week, the 30-year-old one-time barrister was disbarred for falsely telling his sick clients they could possess, use, and grow cannabis. Christensen claimed cops couldn’t touch them as long as they had his “Official Legal Certification” and (phony) patient ID cards. At the time, medical marijuana wasn’t even legal in the Sunshine State.
Two other people—an Iraq War contractor with PTSD and his girlfriend—were arrested and prosecuted after following Christensen’s advice, a state bar investigation found.
Along with the “Official Legal Certification,” Christensen provided clients with “grow signs” they could post at their homes to announce they were cultivating medical