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A cannabis prohibition-related standoff in Ashville, Ohio, resulted in the death of one man on Tuesday night. When police moved to arrest Timothy Sturgis, a 42-year-old resident of Pickaway County, they believed he would attempt to defend his home, his marijuana grow operation, and his freedom. He had reportedly stored his firearms by the windows of his residence and had an alarm to alert him to trespassers, in this case, police.
He warned law enforcement that he would kill himself as soon as they approached him on his property, and they attempted to reach his parents for assistance in negotiation with him. Sturgis was not a career criminal; he was an out-of-work salesman who was likely desperate for income. The threat of prison, possibly for a very long time because he owned firearms and was cultivating cannabis, was clearly too much for him. In the end, he turned his firearm on himself and fatally shot himself, rather than be taken into custody for his marijuana cultivation.
Recently, in Ohio (where decriminalized marijuana means many people light up where they please), the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been partnering with local law enforcement agencies to crack down on rural folks who cultivate cannabis. They’ve been using helicopters to fly over fields, and this week’s fatal shooting is the second serious altercation that has resulted from the program.
Sturgis was no kingpen; there were reportedly only a total of 25 plants. Police valued the bust at roughly $25,000. Officials, of course, as defending their part in this tragic suicide, claiming it wasn’t about cannabis, it was about the victim’s choices. At a time when over half of the country supports legalization and regulation of recreational cannabis, it seems ridiculous that the state of Ohio is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on enforcing cannabis prohibition.
Photo Credit: West Midlands Police under (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr