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BURNING RAINBOW FARM by Dean Kuipers Kirkus Star


How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke

by Dean Kuipers

Pub Date: July 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-59691-142-5
Publisher: Bloomsbury

The story behind the FBI raid on a Michigan farm that could have become the next Waco or Ruby Ridge—except that 9/11 intervened.

On September 9, 2001, Los Angeles–based journalist Kuipers read a newspaper article about the killing of two men by FBI sharpshooters at a southwestern Michigan campground, following a standoff that ran over the Labor Day weekend. Two days later, when people confronting the FBI were suddenly perceived less like defenders of their constitutional rights and more like terrorists, the story was dropped flat by most news media. Kuipers, however, had grown up near tiny Vandalia, Mich., and knew that smoking pot in the state was a misdemeanor, enforcement rare. “The shootings . . . smelled funny the moment I read about them,” he writes; he decided to follow up. For years, he relates, owner Tom Crosslin had groomed Rainbow Farm as a campground, meeting place and concert venue specifically for users and proponents of the legalization of cannabis. “Festivals,” usually dubbed something like Roach Roast or Hash Bash, were regular events; name artists performed for enthusiastic, presumably stoned audiences. The author goes to some lengths and generally succeeds in showing how the outlying conservative rural community, while hardly in favor of legal pot or post-hippie lifestyles, could tolerate Crosslin, his much-younger male lover Rollie Rohm and their crowd on the simple basis that what they did was their own business in a free country. But the county prosecutor’s office had other ideas. When Crosslin and Rohm were caught with a few cannabis plants growing in the basement, they were threatened with outright forfeiture of their property and possible prison time. Defaulting on their court date, the two armed themselves and prepared to burn Rainbow Farm to the ground. Was it spontaneous escalation, or did the War on Drugs go so far as to incorporate murder?

An excellent look at the marijuana subculture, deluded or not, aspiring to the Middle-American mainstream.