On August 26, 2001, syndicated columnist David Broder penned the Op-Ed, "U.S. Drug War Priorities in Need of Re-Evaluation", which appeared in the Columbus Dispatch among a number of Midwest newspapers. Just eight days later, FBI agents joined a raid on the Rainbow Farm in southern Michigan and killed the well-known marijuana reform activists, Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm.
Reacting to this tragedy, I wrote the following LTE to the Columbus Dispatch:

Dear Editor,

"Shots heard round the world" emanated last week from Michigan and should be considered a response to David Broder's column, "U.S. Drug War Priorities in Need of Re-evaluation." (Columbus Dispatch, Sunday August 26, 2001). These shots were fired by the FBI and Michigan State Police killing long-time marijuana activists, Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rolm. Granted, agents reported that the duo in separate incidences aimed their rifles at police and that the two set their Rainbow Farm buildings ablaze and fired at news helicopters. However, the actions taken by the two men very much resemble what would happen if you cornered an angry dog. Quite likely he will bite.

Why might Mr. Crosslin and Mr. Rolm have felt cornered? The government was about to take away everything they held dear: Mr. Crosslin's Rainbow Farm where pro-marijuana concerts were held on a regular basis and Mr. Rolm's 13-year old son. Both were to occur because government agents had observed the use and sale of marijuana and other drugs on the premises.

Here's where Mr. Broder's article and the Rainbow Farm intersect. The U.S. drug-war priorities do indeed need re-evaluation. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants all of us the right to "peaceably assemble." Like most events involving marijuana, gatherings at the Rainbow Farm were almost always peaceful. And as for drugs, which aren't mentioned in the Bill of Rights, I don't believe that the Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals stadium owners have faced the possibility of losing their property or family because "drugs" (namely, alcohol which kills more than 10 times the number people annually than all illegal drugs combined) were either consumed or sold on the premises even though we've many times witnessed the violence that results when rabid fans have had too much to drink.

That anything as peaceful as a "Rainbow Farm" should come under such governmental scrutiny that the end result is death should certainly serve as a wake-up call. It cries out for re-evaluation.

Mary Jane Borden

The letter was never sent. Why? Within another eight days, on September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four airliners, flying two of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one into a Pennsylvania cornfield. A total of 2,993 people were killed in this violent attack. Who among us will ever forget it?

The 9/11 Commission Report states that, "On July 2 [2001] FBI Counterterrorism Division sent a message to federal agencies and state and local law enforcement agencies summarizing information regarding threats from Bin Ladin. It warned that there was an increased volume of threat reporting, indicating a potential for attacks against U.S. targets abroad from groups 'aligned with or sympathetic to 'Usama Bin Ladin.'" (p. 258) The report also concluded, "In sum, the domestic agencies never mobilized in response to the threat. They did not have direction, and did not have a plan to institute." (p. 265)

In January 2002, Washington Post Staff Writer, Peter Carlson, composed an account of the Rainbow Farm tragedy stating, "Outside [the Rainbow Farm grounds], the state police had brought in an armored personnel carrier borrowed from the Michigan National Guard. On Sunday, the FBI arrived, more than 50 strong, summoned to the scene because the helicopter shooting was a federal crime." ("Was the Rainbow Farm Another Waco?" http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n130/a05.html).

One has to wonder: Increased volume of treat reporting. Potential for attacks against U.S. targets from groups aligned with Bin Ladin. No direction and no plan. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution right to peaceably assemble. Armored personnel carrier. Fifty FBI agents. That anything as peaceful as a "Rainbow Farm" should come under such governmental scrutiny that the end result is death should certainly serve as a wake-up call. 2,993 9/11 victims and 2 marijuana activists dead. September 2001 indeed served a wake-up call. And, U.S. drug war priorities are still in need of re-evaluation.

For more information concerning the Rainbow Farm, please visit its memorial website at http://www.rainbowfarmcamp.com . Note on the 'Pictures' link that Tommy Chong among other notables regularly appeared there. Tom and Rollie would be so proud that Michigan is now a medical marijuana state.