On April 6, Renee Wolf was chauffeured to suburban Lansing. At a cyber cafe there, she and others boarded a bus to the Michigan Department of Health. She rolled into the building in her wheelchair, deposited some forms in a box, and officially applied for a permit to grow twelve marijuana plants.
“It was an arduous journey, to say the least,” says Wolf. She’s talking not about the trip to Lansing, but the road to legalizing medical marijuana in Michigan. Wolf, forty-nine, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1980s, shortly before she received her criminology degree from EMU. She says she found that smoking marijuana enabled her to tolerate her disease with a degree of comfort. It also, she says, got her arrested “several times.”
The mother of two bright preteen boys, with a frequent smile that reveals a missing molar, Wolf lives in a casually maintained modular home in Scio Farms. She proudly recalls that she was named “Freedom Fighter of the Month” by High Times magazine in 1996, after she made a wheelchair pilgrimage from Taylor to Lansing to petition the state to allow her to use marijuana legally. The voters finally agreed last November, when they passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
“Renee Emry Wolfe really re-established a paradigm for grassroots activism across America,” says Saginaw attorney Greg Schmid, a longtime advocate of legalized marijuana, “and her compelling story is a major reason why funders took on the huge challenge of a medicinal marijuana petition initiative in the state of Michigan. Michigan’s high signa-ture thresholds have always made us appear a bridge too far for initiative strategists. Renee served the role of ‘equalizer’ in the public debate on medical marijuana.”
“The police have said, ‘Shhhhh… don’t make a fuss,'” says Wolf of her advocacy. “But I want to make a fuss. I want people to know that the herb helps me.”