The state of Florida legalized medical cannabis for severe situations in 2016. However in 2015, Florida lawyer Ian Christensen was already telling purchasers that marijuana was authorized. Christensen suggested purchasers that it was okay to develop their very own marijuana, as long as it was for a medical motive. And he even opposed the then-ongoing effort to legalize medical cannabis as a result of, in his view, it was already authorized.
However earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Courtroom dominated that Christensen prompted severe hurt to his purchasers on account of his faulty authorized recommendation. Because of this, a federal decide ordered the previous Florida lawyer to pay two of his purchasers $370,000 in damages after they had been convicted for illegally cultivating and possessing marijuana. In courtroom, Christensen didn’t even trouble defending himself.
Florida Lawyer Informed Purchasers It Was Authorized to Develop Medical Marijuana
In March 2015, Florida police raided the house of Scott and Marsha Yandell, seizing practically 50 marijuana crops the couple had been cultivating. The Yandells, each 45 on the time, confronted a number of felony drug prices. However in courtroom, the Yandells and their lawyer Ian Christensen claimed that the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Workplace had violated their rights. The Yandells mentioned they had been operating a “testing facility” to develop medical cannabis for sufferers. And so they and Christensen argued that that they had the correct to develop marijuana below each state and federal legislation.
Clearly, the Yandells and their lawyer had been utterly improper about that. In 2015, Florida had solely legalized CBD oil. As well as, a couple of main cities had handed partial decriminalization ordinances for easy possession. Nonetheless, house cultivation, particularly of dozens of crops, was undoubtedly unlawful in 2015. However Christensen had managed to persuade himself, and a few of his purchasers, that rising weed for medical functions was completely authorized. It nonetheless isn’t, by the best way, although medical cannabis is now authorized within the Sunshine State.
Lawyer Gave Out Phony Medical Playing cards and Develop Indicators
It’s nonetheless unclear how Christensen arrived on the specious interpretation of Florida’s marijuana legislation that may permit individuals to develop cannabis legally. However based on quite a few experiences, Christensen was fairly open about his distinctive view of the legislation. On his observe’s web site—Christensen has since been disbarred—he wrote that “if a affected person can show to legislation enforcement that cannabis is the most secure treatment accessible to deal with their recognized situation, they’re NOT topic to arrest.”
Christensen even shared his view with the Florida Sheriff’s Affiliation, writing them to inform them that medical marijuana was already authorized. And for $800, Christensen offered his purchasers completely faux “official authorized certifications” and develop indicators they might place outdoors their house. In different phrases, Christensen charged his purchasers for supplies with which they might publicly proclaim their involvement in extremely criminal activity.
So, after they had been convicted, the Yandells sued their lawyer for damages. On account of the marijuana conviction that in the end stemmed from Christensen’s horrible authorized council, Marsha Yandell misplaced her nursing license. The couple additionally misplaced their home.
However final week, a federal decide in Florida dominated in favor of the Yandells and ordered Christensen to pay them $370,000 in damages and misplaced wages. The paperwork Christensen had supplied to the Yandells, and reportedly two different purchasers together with an Iraq Conflict contractor with PTSD, had been discovered to be “legally meaningless,” based on the ruling.
“Once you’re an lawyer, you’re held to a better customary,” mentioned Andrew Bonderud, the lawyer who represented the Yandells of their lawsuit.