Shrouded Rainbow

Sep 12, 2001 at 12:00 am

The recent killings at the Rainbow Farms campgrounds in southwest Michigan sent shock waves through the loose-knit community of activists gathering signatures to put a marijuana legalization measure before the state’s voters.

“It’s just such a hard thing,” said Greg Schmid, the Saginaw attorney who is the driving force behind the proposed Personal Responsibility Act ballot measure.

How the shooting of Tom Crosslin and Rolland Rohm, who were gunned down during an armed standoff with law enforcement authorities, will ultimately affect the petition-gathering drive is a question Schmid can’t answer. Rainbow Farms played a leading role in Michigan’s pro-marijuana movement, and government attempts to seize the property following drug-and-weapons charges led to the standoff.

If nothing else, the tragedy served to emphasize that this nation’s much touted “war on drugs” isn’t just a metaphor. Although reeling emotionally from these most recent deaths, Schmid said he’s struggling to remain focused on the task at hand, which is to help take pot out of the drug war equation.

“We have a responsibility to make this program work, regardless of how personally crushed I feel,” said Schmid.

As it stands now, the effort to put PRA on the ballot is at a precarious point. So far more than 200,000 of the 302,000 signatures needed have been collected, according to Schmid. The deadline to gather the remaining names is Oct. 3. (The deadline can be extended, but only at the expense of dropping signatures collected during the early part of the campaign.)

Schmid, who worked on the Headlee tax-limitation campaign during the 1970s, points out that roughly one-third of the names gathered in that effort were acquired during the final month. So he sees hope for PRA, which like the Headlee drive, is an all-volunteer effort.

Schmid is also hoping that there’s a deep-pocketed activist somewhere who will come up with the cash to pay for professionals to gather enough signatures to ensure the measure makes it to the ballot.

Whatever the outcome, Schmid plans to soldier on, inspired more than ever by the bloodshed at Rainbow Farms.

“We’ll win,” he promised. “Maybe not this month, or this year, but we will eventually win. And what I will remember is that we left some friends behind.”

Those seeking to learn more about the initiative drive can visit the Web site at

News Hits is edited by Metro Times news editor Curt Guyette. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail [email protected]