IN PICTURES: For the love or hate of weed
Crowds flock to back or protest legalisation
Caiti Woollcott recently returned to Johannesburg after spending six years in Thailand and now spends her Fridays at the dagga trial in Pretoria.
She looks the part - a hippie with dreads, a reversible skirt and John Lennon-styled glasses with plastic peace signs on them. But the guitar appears more a prop than a used instrument.
"Peace and love," she sings, "peace and love."
Her song contrasts with the cries of anti-drug protesters in front of her screaming: "In with Jesus and out with dagga."
Jules Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, the "dagga couple", have asked the Pretoria High Court to find the ban on adult dagga use unconstitutional and instruct parliament to make a new law.
The case has aggravated some people in communities beset with nyaope and tik use and protesters come to court each day courtesy of transport provided by the Gauteng department of social development.
They scream: "Dagga kills," "Dagga causes rapists" and "Phansi ngentsango".
Woollcott says she doesn't understand the argument that dagga is a gateway drug.
"People have choices. I choose not to use heroin. People have a choice."
As protesters scream: "Dagga is killing our children," Woollcott repeats her peace and love mantra while strumming her guitar.
At times the protesters, wearing yellow government-sponsored T-shirts, have been aggressive and have been prevented by their self-appointed leader, Eldorado activist Derelene James, from talking to the media.
Other times they are jubilant, dancing in the road and obstructing the traffic.
"I am high on life, not dagga," their signs read.
Among the protesters there are several former drug addicts who are staying at the Mission Kwasizabantu in Kranskop, KwaZulu-Natal.
One of the mission's preachers is also a doctor, Albertus van Eeden, who runs Doctors for Life, an NGO that opted to join the dagga case and oppose the couple. Van Eeden is in court every day.
Some of the addicts have compelling stories to tell, like Marcel Coleski from Port Elizabeth who started smoking at 14 years old, got expelled from school and then dropped out of a new school.
"The principal [at the new school] gave me a chance but I was rebellious," says Coleski.
It was a schoolfriend's father who smoked with them, providing them with dagga.
Six years later Coleski experimented with harder drugs like tik and nyaope, introduced to him by his friends. He was even living on the streets before attending a free rehabilitation clinic.
When he was arrested for stealing a laptop from a friend for drug money, he was already at rehab so the court was "lenient with me".
After rehab, he moved to Mission Kwasizabantu in the Free State then to Kranskop in KwaZulu- Natal where he was able to get back on his feet.
"I have reconciled with my family. I can talk to my mother's boyfriend now. Before, there were issues."
It is hard to get an answer from those protesting as to how the current drug policy of criminalising dagga use is working to prevent drug abuse.
When asked why many people who try dagga often do not switch to harder drugs, the oft-repeated reply from many is: "Dagga is a gateway drug."
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