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Unscheduling the coca leaf

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?

  • The UN International Narcotics Control Board Releases 2011 Annual Report

    Accuses Bolivia of Threatening Integrity of the Global Drug Control System by Reserving the Right to Use Coca Leaf
    TNI/WOLA Press release
    February 28, 2012

    tni_wola2The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which monitors implementation of the global drug treaties, has trained its fire on Bolivia, this time accusing the country of threatening the integrity of the entire international drug control regime by defending traditional uses of the coca leaf.

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  • Response of Bolivia to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)

    Ministry of Foreign Relation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
    La Paz, February 24, 2012

    In a letter to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) the Government of Bolivia rejects the judgments made by the independent agency of the United Nations after a visit in December 2011 and the conclusions of the Board on the decision to withdraw from the 1961 UN Single Convention and re-adhere with a reservation that would allow for the use of coca in its natural state within Bolivian territory an uphold the traditional practice of coca chewing. The Bolivian government says the INCB is overstepping its mandate. TNI publishes an unofficial translation of the original spanish version of the letter.

    application-pdfDownload the letter in PDF

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  • Bolivia, the coca leaf and the right to reserve

    Bolivia re-enters the 1961 Single Convention on January 28
    Pien Metaal
    Monday, January 2, 2011

    INCB prsident Hamid Ghodse and Bolivia's prsident Evo Morales discuss coca chewingJust before ending 2011, Bolivia presented the formal notification to the United Nations secretariat in New York, announcing their re-adherence to the 1961 UN Single Convention, including a reservation on the use of coca leaf in its natural form, such as coca chewing and infusions. This step was expected to happen, after Bolivia withdrew in June 2011 from the Treaty in an attempt to reconcile its international obligations with its 2008 Constitution. From the day the re-adherence was received in New York, according to the procedure and established practice, it will take 30 days for Bolivia to again become a full member of the 1961 Convention. In other words, on January 28, 2012, the re-adherence will be a fact.

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  • Evo does not convince the INCB on coca chewing

    "We convinced some of its members, but there are also some technicians who do not yet understand"
    Transnational Institute (TNI) with Reuters & Associated Press
    Friday, December 16, 2011

    The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, yesterday asked inspectors of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) of the United Nations to support his petition to decriminalize coca leaf chewing or "akulliku" but acknowledged that he failed to convince everyone. The Board pointed out this year that Bolivia “addresses the coca-chewing issue in a manner that is not in line with that country’s obligations under the international drug control treaties.”

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TNI Drug Law Reform Project

Drug Law Reform in Latin America is a project of the TNI Drugs & Democracy programme

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"Promoting a more effective and humane drug policy in Latin America"

UN Drug Control

In 2011 the 1961 UN Single Convention on drugs will be in place for 50 years. In 2012 the international drug control system will exist 100 years since the International Opium Convention was signed in 1912 in The Hague. Does it still serve its purpose or is a reform of the UN Drug Conventions needed? This site provides critical background.