The coca leaf has been chewed and brewed for tea for centuries in the Andean region – and does not cause any harm and is probably beneficial to human health. Yet the leaf is treated as if it is comparable to cocaine or heroin. The inclusion of the coca leaf in the list of narcotic drugs raises questions about the logic behind the current system of classification under the UN conventions. Is there space to find a more culturally sensitive approach to plants with psychoactive or mildly stimulant properties, and to distinguish more between problematic, recreational and traditional uses?

  • Statement Andean Coca Producers

    On the occasion of the United Nations Special Session on Drugs New York, June 1998
    Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC)
    May 18, 1998

    The Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC), which groups together men and women coca growers from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, met in Puno May 17-18, 1998, to analyze the situation of our people, put a distance between ourselves and the anti-drug policies currently being implemented and propose alternatives that need to be put in practice at the grassroots, demanded from the Andean governments in office today and proposed to the international community.

  • The WHO Cocaine Project

    TNI publishes banned study

    In 1995 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) announced in a press release the publication of the results of the largest global study on cocaine use ever undertaken. A decision in the World Health Assembly banned the publication of the study. The US representative threatened that "if WHO activities relating to drugs failed to reinforce proven drug control approaches, funds for the relevant programmes should be curtailed". This led to the decision to discontinue publication.

  • Coca and cocaine

    Their role in "traditional" cultures in South America
    Antony R. Henman
    The Journal of Drug Issues, 20(4), 577-588

    This article examines alternatives to the War on Drugs through a comparative analysis of attitudes toward coca and cocaine in South America. Two regions of traditional coca use and cultivation -- northwest Amazonas state in Brazil and the department of Cusco in Peru -- are compared to highlight the differences between Peruvian and Brazilian attitudes toward coca and ethnic identity.

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  • The therapeutic value of coca in contemporary medicine

    Andrew T. Weil
    Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 3 (1981) 367 - 376

    Coca appears to be a useful treatment for various gastro-intestinal ailments, motion sickness, and laryngeal fatigue. It can be an adjunct in programs of weight reduction and physical fitness and may be a fast-acting antidepressant. It is of value in treating dependence on stronger stimulants.

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  • Report of the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf

    UN Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC)
    May 1950

    In 1961 the coca leaf was listed on Schedule I of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs together with cocaine and heroin. The inclusion of coca has caused much harm to the Andean region and a historical correction is long overdue, for the sake of further conflict prevention and out of respect for the Andean culture. The rationale for including the coca leaf in the 1961 Single Convention is mainly rooted in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf from May 1950 The report was requested of the United Nations by the permanent representative of Peru that was prepared by a commission that visited Bolivia and Peru briefly in 1949.

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    application-pdfConclusions and Recommendations only

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