Prominent pot activist dies in Shelby County prison

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Pro-marijuana activist Thorne Peters died in a Shelby County Correctional facility over the weekend, county authorities said Monday.

Peters, 57, was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday morning. A cause of death was not released by the county, but a spokesman for the sheriff's office said they don't suspect foul play.

Peters was always blunt about his mission in life. He had a lengthy record of criminal charges for drugs and weapons possession. He called himself "The Kingpin" and maintained a website. He also wrote books on his views on drug prohibition.

In 2009, a Millington bar he owned was raided for drugs and in 2015, his Orange Mound home was raided.

At one point, Peters smoked marijuana in front of the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar and dared authorities to arrest him.

He began serving a four-year sentence in county custody that began Oct 16, 2018, for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of marijuana with intent to sell.

Peters was housed in an individual cell alone, without any cellmates, authorities said.

Jessie Mitchell and Joyce Aycock, who rented a house from Peters, said they were stunned to learn of his death.

"He was a real good friend," said Aycock.

"I didn’t know it was gonna happen like this, that he was gonna pass away or whatever," said Mitchell.

Aycock said she continued to correspond with his girlfriend when Peters went to prison.

"She said that sometimes he would stay awake at night because the others would make a lot of noise in their cells and she said that he would stay awake," Aycock said.

Peters was scheduled for release in December 2021.

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