21 Years Ago Today: Rebellion at Rainbow Farm (Part 2)
Michigan's "Weed Waco," overshadowed by 9/11
The following story was written by yours truly and killed by a publication that was subsequently killed itself by the cut-throat media environment. I’m publishing it here online for the first time. It’s a big one, so I’m splitting it into two parts. See part 1: here.
This story takes place in a weird, ancient era: the mid-to-late nineties. Marijuana was highly illegal, and if you were in a certain subculture, you were dragged into the drug war whether you liked it or not. Until 2001, Rainbow Farm was an important part of the movement to end the drug war.
Scott Teter was elected Cass County prosecutor at the age of 34. He made his reputation cracking down on deadbeat dads and statutory rapists. He even garnered national attention on the Today show, which contacted him after putting up billboards that said: “If your sex partner is under 16, they won’t be when you get out of prison.” The common consensus seems to be that Teter had a strong desire — either moral, political, or pathological — to stick it to Tom and Rollie.
In 1996, the same year that Teter was elected, Rainbow Farm became a draw on the national festival circuit. The campground hosted the Hemp Aid festival, with Jack Herer — world-renowned cannabis activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the bible of the legalization movement in the 1980s and 1990s — as the headline speaker. Three years later, close to 5,000 visitors would attend the annual Hemp Aid festival, featuring stoner comedy legend Tommy Chong.
This was all happening under a certain air of menace. Talking to the South Bend Tribune, Rainbow Farm employee DeCraene recalled the time that Merle Haggard arrived at the farm. “The first thing he said after getting off the bus and meeting Tom and Rollie was, Do you own this place?" When Crosslin answered in the affirmative, Haggard replied: “It’s amazing nobody’s shot you yet.”
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