Legal Coca Production

"Coca is regarded as a sacred leaf by some of the indigenous American communities of the Andes and Amazon basin, where it has been used for a variety of purposes for thousands of years (Mortimer, 1974). As a consequence, the legal status of coca is sometimes ambiguous in South America, complicating efforts to control cocaine production. Bolivian and Peruvian laws allow the growing of some coca in order to supply long-standing, licit, local consumer markets for coca leaves (‘chewing’) and derived products, mostly coca tea, in both countries. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has recently called for the suppression of these legal coca markets under Article 49, 2e, of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which requires the elimination of coca consumption ‘within twenty-five years of the coming into force of this convention’ (INCB, 2008a). Additionally, some coca is grown legally in Peru and Bolivia for processing into decocainised flavouring agents that are sold to international manufacturers of soft drinks under Article 27 of the 1961 Single Convention. Finally, the ‘chewing’ of coca leaves and the drinking of coca tea appears to be tolerated for some communities or in some regions in a number of South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador."


EMCDDA and Europol, "Cocaine: A European Union perspective in the global context" (Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2010), pp. 9-10.