Pubdate: Wed, 12 Sep 2001
Source: Herald-Palladium, The (MI)
Copyright: 2001 The Herald-Palladium
Authors: Jack R. Lebowitz, Myron Von Hollingsworth, Gerald V. Dwan,
Kim Davis
Bookmarks: (Cannabis) (Asset Forfeiture) (Rainbow Farm Shooting)


Editor, I must respectfully disagree with the views expressed in your 
recent editorial ("Duo precipitated deadly standoff," Sept. 6) that Tom 
Crosslin and Rolland Rohm were responsible for "escalate(ing) tensions" 
that led to the fatal confrontation with law enforcement.

Considering only the campground owners' final moments in their standoff 
with dozens of FBI sharpshooters is as myopic as the police combing through 
the charred rubble looking for clues which might somehow explain or justify 
the killings.

No one can deny that the root cause of the confrontation was an 
extraordinary three-year effort by the Cass County prosecutor and law 
enforcement at all levels of government to eradicate music festivals at the 
campground, confiscate Crosslin's property, seize Rohm's 13-year-old son 
and incarcerate these otherwise good citizens for long prison terms.

Essentially, the charges against these men boiled down to the allegations 
that some patrons allegedly smoked marijuana at their festivals, and the 
owners themselves allegedly were seen smoking pot and grew some pot plants? 
While these activities are indeed illegal, given our Draconian mandatory 
minimum sentences for drug offenses and "presumed guilty" civil asset 
forfeiture laws, the punishments are certainly not trivial. Fair reporting 
requires recognizing that had these men surrendered peaceably, they would 
most likely have been summarily deprived of their property, families and 
freedom because of the mechanical operation of our drug laws and their 
absurdly disproportionate and unfair punishments.

So looking at the bigger picture, there is certainly an issue of whether 
prosecutors and law enforcement have been provoking the situation for a 
long time. Pot smoking is common at outdoor music concerts, but I don't see 
the authorities trying to seize or shut down venues owned by corporate 
owners. So it seems that two "little guys" here, and outspoken ones at 
that, were unfairly singled out for application of laws designed to apply 
to "drug kingpins" and organized crime.

Your editorial concludes that if both men had just surrendered peaceably, 
they would have avoided their own tragic deaths. Does it follow that you 
would have found the other punishments, which surely would have been meted 
out had these men shown up in court, just and reasonable, given all the 
circumstances? Is there an other side to this story you're missing?

Jack R. Lebowitz
Queensbury, N.Y.
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Cannabis has no lethal dose and its pharmacological effects have never 
caused a single death in more than 5,000 years of recorded history.

The (unseen) driving force against medical (or unrestricted adult) 
legalization of cannabis is the fact that cannabis can't be patented. This 
precludes the need for big business to be involved and that fact makes 
cannabis commercially unattractive to the pharmaceutical, tobacco and 
alcohol industries and their lobbies. It seems that if it can't be 
profitized successfully, the government can't justify legalization even for 
the sick and dying.

Furthermore, the war on cannabis drives the war on drugs. Without cannabis 
prohibition, the drug war would be reduced to a pillow fight. This is the 
politics and the economics of cannabis prohibition.

Maybe the corrupt politicians and media are required to adhere to the party 
line of cannabis prohibition because law enforcement, customs, the prison 
and military industrial complex, the drug testing industry, the "drug 
treatment" industry, the INS, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA, the politicians 
themselves et al, can't live without the budget justification, not to 
mention the invisible profits, bribery, corruption and forfeiture benefits 
that prohibition affords them. The drug war also promotes, justifies and 
perpetuates racist enforcement policies and is diminishing many freedoms 
and liberties that are supposed to be inalienable according to the 
Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Myron Von Hollingsworth
Fort Worth, Texas
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Editor, This is a nation of laws, but we find that places such as Arizona, 
California or Oregon, free states all, better not pass laws that do not 
meet the great white father's conditions.

Those conditions are, sometimes, quite arbitrary, if not unconstitutional. 
Take the drug-forfeiture laws, for example. The Herald-Palladium ran an 
editorial much to that effect - that we are no longer safe in our homes or 
persons if a well-trained dog (coached?) sniffs drugs on our money, our 
vehicle, or anything near us. It has become a money machine for the police. 
They do not even need a warrant or reasonable suspicion to steal our 
property. If you do fight back, the officer of the court (lawyer) costs 
more than you may recover.

Of course, dead men tell no tales and life is hard to recover.

Gerald V. Dwan
St. Joseph
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Editor, Alcohol is legal, "pot" is not. Yet, how many domestic violence 
calls come in from pot-smoking? How many barroom brawls are over pot? How 
many car accidents are due to pot-smoking? Alcohol takes thousands of lives 
every day, yet it's socially acceptable.

Seventy-five FBI agents, 35 state troopers, 35 sheriff's deputies, all for 
two men.

Why? This was a personal vendetta, a war on pot, and nothing more. Why is 
it being kept from the public how many times these two men were shot? Could 
it be that the "good guys" got trigger happy? Maybe if they had smoked some 
pot, it would have been handled peacefully, with smiles on their faces. I 
am ashamed and disgraced for what has happened.

My condolences to the families of these two men, and to Rainbow Farm. I am 
sorry for what the authorities have taken from them.

Kim Davis,
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart