Johannesburg - Every day, Arnold Singh gets home from work, kicks off his shoes and spends some quality time with his Mary Jane before doing anything else.
And, as the 31-year-old sits outside his Nancefield, Soweto, home with Mary Jane in his hands, engulfed in a cloud of smoke, he relaxes and reflects on his day.
Singh is a dagga smoker, and despite the glut of stories about how bad it is, for him, the plant will always be Mary Jane, the greatest herb in the world.
On Sunday, Singh and many other dagga smokers converged on the Joburg CBD to support Julian Stobbs and his wife Myrtle Clarke in collecting funds that will go towards their fight to legalise the drug.
On March 25 next year, the couple will appear in the Pretoria High Court, where they will argue that dagga should be legalised. They will need hundreds of thousands of rand to pay their legal fees.
Singh wants the couple to succeed in their fight so he can smoke his Mary Jane in peace. “I am here to support the dagga couple in their fight to make the greatest herb legal so that we don’t have to run around being afraid of the police and being arrested.
“We smoke something that comes from the ground. I don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. I just smoke dagga,” said Singh, who has been smoking dagga for 15 years.
Stobbs, who has been smoking dagga for about 30 years, said he was trying to help cannabis smokers get out of the closet, “like the gays did” many years ago.
Recently, IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini called for the legalising of dagga for medicinal purposes. Oriani-Ambrosini, who has cancer, said it had extended his life expectancy.
Stobbs said Oriani-Ambrosini was under the impression there was medical marijuana and “the other marijuana”.
“He is wrong; it’s one plant. There is not one that is made for medicine and the other made for psychos. Why can it be given to the dying, but I can’t use it?” Stobbs asked.
He also said it was untrue that dagga contributed to crime.
“I am sick of it being seen as a contributor to crime. There is no research or facts which back that up. The causes of crime are joblessness, homelessness and hopelessness,” he said.
All kinds of people – from teenagers to an old man in a wheelchair – heeded the call to support making dagga legal.
One teen inhaled flavoured dagga from a hubbly bubbly (hookah pipe).
Roxanne van Tonder, her husband Leon, their three children and Roxanne’s 17-year-old sister had left Polokwane, Limpopo, at 5am to be at the fundraiser.
Roxanne and her husband grew up with parents who were dagga smokers, and they also smoke it at home around their children. Their five-year-old daughter did not seem to be bothered by the smoke.
Roxanne espoused the virtues of the drug, saying it had many medicinal uses.