Good Bye, Cocaine. Hello Coca!

Bolivia, the world’s third largest cocaine producer, has escaped US drug sanctions because it met the counter-narcotics commitment of eradicating at least 5,000 hectares (12,360 acres) of coca crop. According to Reuters, cocaine seizures were up 17 percent to 11 tonnes in Bolivia from October 2006 to May 2007, while coca leaf seizures increased by 48 percent. However, this could paradoxically be the result of higher production of cocaine.

Last year, the US imposed a “zero cocaine, but not zero coca” policy, allowing coca growers to develop a market for legal coca products. Bolivians believe that coca leaves are healthy. They have chewed them for centuries as a mild stimulant that reduces hunger pangs and altitude sickness.

Seems to me that Bolivians will have a hard time importing legal coca leaves to the US arguing that Americans need to cure their hunger pangs. Hunger is quite possibly the last thing Americans need cured.

However, I was surprised to find that you can buy coca tea in the US on I was even more surprised to find that they mix coca leaves with, of all things, chamomile. “Sleepy time, brought to you by coca.” It is a strange, conflicted world we live in, folks.