The irony of life and death strikes again when Albany Sherriff Craig D. Apple received a call from hikers notifying him of the discovered body of Daniel R. Ricketts this Saturday. The cause of death? The 50-year-old was apparently the victim of his own booby traps surrounding the marijuana plants on his property.
The unlucky Mr. Ricketts was driving an ATV in his backyard around 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon when he drove through the nearly invisible piece of piano wire he had used to barricade four large marijuana plants — leaving him looking like the cousin of Nearly-Headless Nick. Ricketts had also set other harsh booby traps, with items like barbed wire and even a leg trap similar to something used to trap coyotes defending his grow operations.
As always with these kinds of accidents, Sherriff Apple noted that alcohol may have been a factor in the incident.
Interestingly enough, this unfortunate turn of events actually provokes some noteworthy questions. In particular: does harsh federal drug law only breed this sort of paranoia from marijuana farmers? By no means are Ricketts' actions commendable — after all, someone else could have been fatally injured as well — but policymakers cannot completely discount that the particularly stringent marijuana laws of New York is a factor in extremely protective behavior, as it is in any black market drug industry. Whether or not that should warrant more lenient drug legislation is another issue entirely. Sheriff Apple noted that the rural hills in the county are often used to secretly grow drugs, affirming the fact that this drug discovery was no rare occurrence.
Ultimately, policymakers can act in two ways after this event. They can first call the entire issue an enigma, and one that holds no weight on how policy should be either delivered or enforced. Or secondly, and arguably more proactively, lawmakers view this as something that was reflection of a perceived need. Ricketts clearly felt that he needed to protect his own illegal plants to a dangerous degree because of the harsh repercussions he might face if they were found by authorities. If marijuana policy perhaps began to shift in the direction of legal leniency, something along the lines of the polices adopted by Washington and Colorado, small-time farmers wouldn’t feel the need to so drastically protect their property. Unfortunately, it's doubtful we'll be seeing any action on the latter any time soon.