The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead on investigating the death of an inmate discovered on Sunday.
At 7:10 a.m. Sunday, inmate Thorne Peters, 57, was found unresponsive in his cell by corrections staff and was later declared dead.
The medical examiner has taken possession of the body and will be looking for a cause of death.
Peters began serving a four-year sentence on Oct. 16, 2018, for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and Possession of marijuana with intent. He lost a court appeal earlier this year on the gun charge. Getting it overruled would have lowered his sentence.
He was serving his sentence at the prison near Shelby Farms in East Memphis, and he was scheduled to be discharged in December 2021. Peters was housed in an individual cell alone, without any cellmates. He was classified as level 3 (minimum security). The prison where he was housed as the penal farm on Mullins Station, near Shelby Farms in East Memphis.
Peters, self-billed as “The Kingpin,” was a marijuana legalization advocate and provocateur known for openly using/selling pot, defying authorities to arrest him and maintaining a high profile with books, webcasts and legal proceedings. He had a website at thornepeters.com that was still operational as of Tuesday.
He made a name for himself in 2009 for operating a pot-friendly nightclub in Millington.
Among his antics were proclaiming himself “Poet Laureate of Planet Earth” and the “Galileo of pot,” smoking and selling cannabis in front of 201 Poplar, and initiating the Cannabag Challenge (dumping pot on one’s head to advocate for marijuana legalization, as people did with ice for the ALS Icebucket Challenge).