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US Says No to Lifting UN Coca Leaf Ban

A year and a half ago, the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales formally requested an amendment to the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to remove the ban on coca leaf chewing and bring the treaty in line with the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now, with the deadline to contest that amendment drawing near, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) is reporting that the US and other Western countries are mobilizing to kill the amendment. The IDPC is calling on those countries to abstain from blocking the amendment.

Bolivian coca leaf chewer (image courtesy of the author)
There are only two weeks before the January 31 deadline. According to the IDPC, the US, Britain, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and Sweden are all planning to try to block the amendment. The IDPC characterizes the move as trying "to stop the right of Bolivians to express their own culture."

Washington made it official Tuesday. An anonymous "senior US official" told the Associated Press the US would file a formal objection to the request. "We hope a number of other countries will file as well," he said.

While coca is the raw material from which cocaine is made, it is also a plant that has been used by the indigenous peoples of the Andes for thousands of years. It is valued for its mild stimulant and hunger-suppressing effects. Bolivia is the world's third largest producer of coca, behind Peru and Colombia.

"Coca leaf chewing is one of the socio-cultural practices and rituals of the Andean indigenous peoples. It is closely linked to our history and cultural identity,” President Morales wrote in a letter to the UN seeking the amendment. This traditional practice "cannot and should not be prohibited," he added.

"At a time when drug prohibition has enriched and emboldened criminal cartels to such an extent that they are attempting to violently annex the state in parts of Mexico and Guatemala, the US is expending considerable effort in blocking the Bolivian government’s legitimate and democratic right to protect and preserve a harmless indigenous practice," said British MP Jeremy Corbin, secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bolivia. "The international community needs to get its priorities right and resist this culturally ignorant attempt to dictate to indigenous people in Bolivia."

And someone needs to tell Washington.

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coca leaf chewing

For Gods sake ,why can't the United States government mind it's own Fxxxing business. We have a chance to show that we can let people live their lives without us sticking our nose in their business. I just don't understand why we have to bother other countries with our lame ass morals. The world would definitely be a better place if the United States left it alone.

Gart's picture

Sure is not a fig leaf?

The whole story about coca leaves would be just a laughing matter, should it
not were an emblem of such a murderous, heinous and barbaric policy: the war
on drugs (WoD). Like the proverbial fig leaf used to cover the genitals of
those depicted in paintings and sculptures, WoD fanatics and fundamentalist
believe that the cover their responsibility for the violence, corruption and
destruction of democratic institutions in countries around the world by
simply putting a leaf on their...consciences. It is clear to me that the
fanaticism and fundamentalism of the USA when it comes to pursuing the
so-called “war on drugs” is simply a reflection of their myopic and skewed
views about world affairs. It was then and it is now.

Gart Valenc

Gart's picture

Relevant articles


I can't send you the links as it seems your spam filter doesn't like them. But I just want you to know that in two successive articles, TNI Drug Law Reform have called the attention to countries that have withdrawn their objections (see Diplomatic Games to Oppose Lifting Unjust Ban on Coca Chewing) released January 16, and then, a press release on January 18 (called The US Moves to Block Bolivia's Request to Eliminate U.N. Ban on Coca Leaf Chewing.)

Gart Valenc



The US is a terrorist country.

Plain and simple. The united states inflicts more death, harm and destruction on the world than any country in history. And inflicting it's "morals" on foreign countries is terrorism. The US government is criminally insane, and a danger to all living things. They disregard laws that they don't want to follow, inflict their will on others, and kill them if they resist. The "war on drugs" is way more harmful than beneficial, drug addiction isn't a criminal concern, it's a medical condition, what gives them the power to criminalize a medical condition? It's a sick twisted mentality we have running this nation into third worldism, a criminal cartel without boundries, a control freak run amok. The US government is responsible for over 30,000 deaths in Mexico alone, and many thousands more in the "homeland". The drug war is government sponsored domestic terrorism, and militarized police are the strong arm of this criminal cartel. The CIA is the biggest drug importer to the US, ask Clinton.

A question

Could someone please tell me: is it the expressed goal of the u.s. to extinguish illegal plants from the face of the earth? Seriously, what is the official explanation? Is the stated aim of the DEA to actually make extinct these plants? Anyone know?

> is it the expressed goal of

> is it the expressed goal of the u.s. to extinguish illegal plants from the face of the earth?

I used to think that was the goal.  The real goal is to extinguish plants from everywhere on earth EXCEPT for a few labs they control.  Basically they want to be the only ones on Earth to have them.

It is indeed the stated

It is indeed the stated intent of the US (in accordance with policies also promulgated by the United Nations) to completely eradicate the coca plant, to achieve what they call "coca cero."


I too agree no government should dictate to the peoples of the world which "herbs we can use ! Herbs have been used for centuries with excellent results; far batter than man made laboratory chemical drugs imo !

Not only do Herbs heal; Herbs also contain vitamins minerals antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients ! (esp. mmj)

Coca Leaf Control

The USA and its puppy nations remind me of the headmaster and teachers at school. They pretend that their decisions are made democratically, when in fact the students - the reason the school exists at all - have virtually no say in how things are run. We can have our tea and coffee, but Bolivia can't have its traditional daily stimulant. They should remember that children grow up and become adults.

US government is the criminal

+1 on this statement.

The US government is criminally insane, and a danger to all living things. They disregard laws that they don't want to follow, inflict their will on others, and kill them if they resist...

I might add my own thought to this, and I hope to think 'most' Americans share the same..

--To be very clear-- The US Government does NOT act on behalf of the American people.
I personally have no desire to control the world, it's people, or change laws in foreign countries. I do hope that all people are free to enjoy and pursue what life has to offer them without being unduly harmed by their Government.

The US Government needs to worry about their own country, which by the way, they do a horrible job of oversight and domestic governance (in their OWN country, on their OWN soil).

Ahh.. the World War on Some

Ahh.. the World War on Some Plants... the only thing that all of the United Nations can agree on... one war to unite us all!  Get back in line, Bolivia.

Anyone else find it funny that Coca Cola is given blessing by the US government to import coca leaves to America, but at the same time America demands that the natives be punished for daring to chew the leaves?  What a world!

Why are we doing this? Is

Why are we doing this? Is there some way the US is profiting off of coca? it's so nonsensical and depressing. we need to leave other countries alone i hate it so much :'< i agree with the subject above me US is a terrorist country. why are we so unbelievably awful

let the Bolivians live their

let the Bolivians live their lives

Coca is not cocaine but it is similar

I am Bolivian and I agree with the ban; I have seen the effects of the "traditional"chewing in indigenous people, which are similar to the drug effects. Why ? because everybody chews with sodium bicarbonate, this helps to release the alkaloid. Nobody chews the leaf alone, which indeed has some therapeutic effects.

Do you think that sodium

Do you think that sodium should be out made illegal in your country.  Maybe if your country is ambitious enough that kind of salt will be illegal in every country.  And all the people who disagree with you will be dead or imprisoned.  Then the world will be a better place! .....right?

> Nobody chews the leaf

> Nobody chews the leaf alone, which indeed has some therapeutic effects.

Why would you want to ban it if it has therapeutic effects?

I am tired of people demanding to punish responsible people because others cannot handle their life.

How about we agree to focus on helping those who need it, and leaving those who don't need it alone?

coca is only coca,,,not cocaine

First off coca IS NOT cocaine,that is a fact!!!Cocaine has got to be made with any type of alcohol and acid base chemicals!The exact same chemicals used in every drug testing reagents to so call prove there is cocaine in them there leaves.They make it thru the test method,ie,benzoylecgonine,then turn around and tell the poor soul who simply drank a cup of tea in the morning,''u tested positive for cocaine''How much more unethical corruption do  people need to see to see who the real liers are here.The united states government are the liers!!!!They put on good mens /womans record for life they tested positive for something they just made thru the test method alone,and destroy the poor guys life over there lie.Alone,coca is only coca.Y don't we start telling the truth here,that would be a good start.They never ever test anyone for true cocaine...y... because anyone who simply enjoys tea would come up negative everytime,sooo they go for a chemical they can make called benzoylecgonine.If u don't believe me try it yourselves,take a coca tea bag,put it in a cup of cold water,wait 15-20 minuts,put a urine dip stick in it,bongo,positive everytime,but wait,isn't the LIE,u had to consume it in order to have benzoylecgonine,the liver blah blah blah,u just made benzoylecgonine.How,each dipstick or urine base drug tes has acid and ethanol on the end of that stick.The acid creates the heat for conversion,the ethanol extracts coca,anotherwards,coca+ethanol+acid = benzoylecgonine.Allll chemistry is a recipe,just like cookies,unless u have the right ingredients u don't get cookies,,,same applies to alll chemistry.Try yourselfs,,,the truth is a great place to start,,,,,,,coca is only coca folks,alone,it is just coca.,,paita

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