Rainbow Farm standoff will be made into movie
VANDALIA, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A deadly standoff revolving around marijuana and a campground property that resulted in the death of two West Michigan men is in the early stages of being made into a movie.
According to Dean Kuipers, author of “Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went up in Smoke”, director Lenny Abrahamson has signed on to direct the movie, which was also optioned by a production studio.
Rainbow Farm was a relatively popular campground in Cass County with a reputation for being friendly to the idea of recreational marijuana.
It was also known for being able to book popular entertainment, such as Big Brother and the Holding Company, Tommy Chong and Merle Haggard.
The operators of the farm, Tom Crosslin and Rolland Rohm, later faced multiple charges stemming from the fact that marijuana was grown on the property, among other things.
Through asset-forfeiture laws, law enforcement and the Cass County prosecutor’s office sought to take the property away from Crosslin and Rohm, who had already been in trouble with the law before.
“They wanted it to be legalized,” said Kuipers, author of the book. “I think that when this all went down and he discovered he was subject to asset forfeiture, I think that just sent him over the edge.”
For days, both Crosslin and Rohm refused to come off the farm, and armed themselves as the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and FBI surrounded the campgrounds.
At one point Crosslin set fire to part of the property as tensions escalated.
Days later, both men were shot by an FBI agent and State Police Officer. According to the FBI at the time, Crosslin raised his gun while approaching the agent.
The deaths of Crosslin and Rohm remain controversial 17 years later, with some feeling that too many law enforcement resources and federal resources were used, escalating tension.
Kuipers, author of “Burning Rainbow Farm”, is originally from Mattawan. He moved to Los Angeles but flew back to West Michigan to watch the scene at Rainbow Farm unfold once he saw it make national headlines back in 2001.
“It’s really unfortunate that Tom and Rollie really felt so threatened by what was happening that they themselves picked up weapons,” Kuipers said, referring to their final days alive and weeks leading up to the standoff. “There needed to be a dialogue with the authorities because Tom was that sort of guy, and he tried to go to the prosecutor’s office several times to settle differences before it escalated to this point.”
In some circles, the standoff at Rainbow Farm was marked as an infamous milestone in the push to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but in a more broad sense, it has been somewhat forgotten, perhaps due to the incident taking place just before 9/11.
“I think the Rainbow Farm story is something that resonates with people when they hear it,” Kuipers said, “People aren’t supposed to die because of their stance on whether or not you can smoke weed and in the end, that’s what happened.”
Kuipers acknowledged however, that in end, Crosslin and Rohm broke the law, and that Crosslin also played a role in escalating tensions.
“It seems really apparent that Tom shot at a news helicopter and that’s really bad,” Kuipers added. “But they had the support of so many in the community who wanted the police to go in there and try to talk with them.”
Kuipers says although the book now has a director and production company hoping to turn it into a movie, it’s still too early to contemplate about a release date, and details are still few and far between.
The Newschannel 3 I-Team has issued Freedom of Information Act to both the Michigan State Police and FBI concerning the events that transpired at Rainbow Farm, and will be doing another story in the near future based on information gained during those requests.