The coca plant originates from the humid tropical forests on the eastern
slopes of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. Its power to fight tiredness,
pain and hunger was considered supernatural already thousand years ago.
Chewing coca is a common habbit for about 15 million native inhabitants
of South America where Indians consume coca as food. It has been scientifically
proven that coca leaves have extremely high nutritional value for the human organism.
Coca is legally sold packed in tea bags in countries where it is grown, like Peru or Bolivia.
Such tea is a mild stimulant without side effects or intoxicating effects of kokain.
It reduces headaches, stomach aches, improves man's physical and mental powers.
Coca is also highly valued in traditional medicine. Applying crushed coca leaves
on temples is used to aliminate headache. Combining crushed coca leaves together
with other compontents is used for body wraps for pregnant women. Mixing coca
leaves with honey is used to soothe the stomach. Some forms of diabetes are treated with coca.
Lately, there are various modern food products containing coca leaf extract.
These facts indicate a shift in the change of view on the use of coca leaves.
The path to legalization
Evo Morales, the first Indian president of Bolivia, is the most prominent campaigner
of the rights of coca producers. He turned the course of the former Bolivian government
that was going to ban coca completely. Morales himself uses coca and a former grower of the crop.
With a goal to to erase this traditional food from the international list of banned drugs
he took many significant steps in the spirit of "coca yes, cocaine no". Morales is famous
for demonstratively chewing coca during his speech at the UN meeting in Vienna,
where even the former Ministry of Interior Ivan Langer said prohibiting coca in Bolivia is like banning the Czech plum brandy.
In another UN meeting, Morales showed coca leaves and told the audience: "This coca leaf is green, not white, like cocaine."
Were it not for US resistance, coca could have been legalized already.
United States asserted arecall of the WTO report from 1995, which found that the use of coca leaves
has no negative effects on the health and that in the indigenous Andean populations
fulfills a positive therapeutic, religious and social function.