| On the day that he purchased Rainbow Farm, Tom Crosslin said destiny had led him to the place. By the late 1990s the farm would become a well-known stop on the hippie trail, a scenic overlook for the migratory flocks of travelers and Phish fans who crisscrossed the country.

For thousands of blue-collar pilgrims who stopped there looking for a few days of fun and freedom in Michigan’s vacation lands, it was a benevolent little campground. And on any other Labor Day they would have been there: thousands of happy stoners setting up tents for Crosslin’s annual marijuana-legalization fest, a party he’d named Roach Roast. But on Friday morning, August 31, 2001, he was storming around, telling the last of the local kids to leave.

“Get the hell out of here,” Crosslin said, “and don’t you dare come back. Just watch the news tonight.”

Crosslin and his lover, Rolland “Rollie” Rohm, were in desperate straits. They were facing drug and firearms charges brought against them by a local prosecutor, Scott Teter. If they lost the case, they were looking at serious jail time and the loss of their property under drug-war forfeiture laws. They had posted bail, but it was now in danger of being revoked. Instead of showing up at a bond hearing that morning, they had made the momentous decision to blow it off and stay on the farm. They were going to fight for their rights, but not in a court room.

When the road was quiet, Crosslin walked to his production facility, a double wide modular unit that has served as a greenroom during outdoor concerts by Merle Haggard and Tommy Chong. It was now packed with bales of straw. Crosslin set it ablaze, sending the red-winged blackbirds on a nearby pond into a riot of chatter.

Soon Rainbow Farm’s other structures were burning: First a wooden booth where visitors had traded $65 for tickets to three-daylong hemp festivals, then an old pump house that served as Crosslin’s home, and a new one he’d built for his licensed campground and RV hookups. Finally, the fire consumed his prize: a quarter-million-dollar main campground building housing a coffee shop, a general store, a head shop, the main office, showers for a dozen people and Cass County’s best laundromat. Acrid black smoke billowed into the sky above 54 acres of woods and meadow, and all across the country people read the signals: The four-year public feud between Tom Crosslin and Cass County prosecutor Scott Teter had finally come to a head.

Five days later, after a standoff that involved the sheriff’s department, the Michigan state police and the FBI, the men lay dead and lives were forever altered. The events at Rainbow Farm quickly became front-page news but were even more quickly overshadowed by the September 11 terrorist attacks. The story – and the troubling issues it raised – seemed forgotten. Until now. Court documents and extensive interviews with survivors make it possible to re-create the events leading up to the siege and the escalation of violence at Rainbow Farm. It’s the story of the destruction of a flawed utopia, a place where a group of outsiders made an attempt at redemption and success but ended up facing the full force of America’s drug laws. Read Entire Article

By Dean Kuipers