Many myths surround coca. Every day push accounts around the world use the word coca in their headlines, once in fact they refer to cocaine."s Drugs and Democracy Team exposes the myths and also reality neighboring the coca leaf.

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Related primersHuman Rights and Drug PolicyFact Sheet: Coca leaf and also the UN medicine ConventionsThe UN Drug manage Conventions

1. What is coca?Coca is a plant v a complicated array of mineral nutrients, necessary oils, and varied link with greater or lesser pharmacological results – one of which happens to it is in the alkaloid cocaine, which in its concentrated, synthesized kind is a stimulant with possible addictive properties.The coca leaf has actually been chewed and brewed because that tea traditionally because that centuries amongst its indigenous peoples in the Andean region – and also does not cause any type of harm and also is useful to human health.

The traditional method of chewing coca leaf, referred to as acullico, consists of keeping a saliva-soaked ball of coca leaves in the mouth together with an alkaline substance the assists in extract cocaine from the leaves.

When chewed, coca acts as a soft stimulant and also suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue. The helps get over altitude sickness. Coca chewing and also drinking the coca tea is lugged out everyday by millions of civilization in the Andes without problems, and is considered sacred within aboriginal cultures. Coca tea is extensively used, also outside the Andean Amazon region. Coca has an established use spread among all social classes, in two northern provinces the Argentina. Over there is an increasing use that coca flour together a food supplement.Because that its stimulant result coca sheet was originally offered in the soft drink Coca Cola. In 1903 it was removed and a decocainized coca extract is one of the flavouring ingredients.

2. What is its relationship to cocaine?While the coca leaf in that is natural form is a harmless and also mild stimulant comparable to coffee, over there is no doubt the cocaine can be extracted from the coca leaf. There is no coca there would certainly be no cocaine. The "ready extractability" the cocaine from coca pipeline is right now the major argument to justify the present illegal status of the sheet in the 1961 single Convention. The cocaine alkaloid content in coca leaf ranges in between 0,5 and also 1,0 percent.

Cocaine, to be isolated about 1860 and was synthesized come be provided in manufacturing renowned patent medicines, beverages and "tonics" till the beforehand years that the 20th century. Concern about cocaine use began in numerous countries in the 1910s and also 1920s, centred on dependence on the drug and also subsequent "moral ruin", an especially among the young. Regulations restricting the availability of cocaine observed a autumn in consumption in most of the countries surveyed native the 1920s till the 1960s.

Particularly worrying is the use of smokable cocaine base paste (PBC, paco, bazuco or crack in Latin America), as unique from free-base and crack cocaine that is produced from cocaine in the united States and Europe. Smokable cocaine base paste is harmful and highly addictive. As soon as sharing homemade pipes, i m sorry is often component of the crack use ritual, crack users acquire sores on your lips and gums and are susceptible to diseases such together herpes, tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

3. Why is the coca leaf banned?In 1961 the coca leaf was listed on Schedule i of the UN single Convention on narcotic Drugs together with cocaine and also heroin, with a strict control level ~ above medical and also scientific use.The consist of of coca leaf in Schedule ns was done through a twin purpose: come phase the end coca chewing and to avoid the to produce of cocaine. The solitary Convention mandated to destroy coca bush if illegally grew (Article 26) and also that coca sheet chewing have to be abolished in ~ a 25-year duration (Article 49) - i.e. Through December 1989, 25 years after the comes into force of the treaty.The rationale for including the coca leaf in the 1961 single Convention is mainly rooted in a report through the ECOSOC the supervisory board of Enquiry ~ above the Coca sheet in 1950, after a quick visit come Bolivia and Peru in 1949.It concluded that the effects of chewing coca leaves were negative, even though it “does no at present show up that the chewing the the coca leaf deserve to be concerned as a drug addiction in the clinical sense”. The WHO skilled Committee on medicine Dependence later withdrew this argument, labeling coca use as a type of cocainism.The ECOSOC report to be sharply criticised for the makeup of that is researchers, the arbitrariness, negative methodology, absence of precision and also racist connotations. Nowadays, a comparable study would never ever pass the scrutiny and critical review to which scientific studies are routinely subjected.

4. Go the 1961 Convention tho ban any type of use of coca?In an effort to obtain legal recognition for timeless use, Peru and Bolivia negotiated i 2 of write-up 14 right into the 1988 Convention, stipulating that steps to eradicate illegal cultivation and illicit need "should take due account of timeless licit use, whereby there is historic evidence of such use."In 1994 the worldwide Narcotics manage Board (INCB) – the surveillance body for the implementation of the UN international drug regulate conventions – discussed that drinking of coca tea "which is considered harmless and legal in several countries in southern America, is one illegal task under the provisions the both the 1961 Convention and the 1988 Convention, though the was not the on purpose of the plenipotentiary conferences that embraced those conventions."Nevertheless, in their 2007 yearly report the INCB retracted on its earlier position and also called on nations to "abolish or prohibit coca sheet chewing and also the to produce of coca tea."

5. Why have to coca be gotten rid of from the UN perform of prohibited drugs?The consist of of coca has caused much harm to the Andean region and a historical correction is lengthy overdue. The 1961 single Convention enshrined the timeless Western view, which equates coca v cocaine, and treats both in specifically the very same way. A distinction needs to be made.There must be an are to discover a much more culturally sensitive approach to plants with psychoactive or mildly stimulant properties, and to distinguish an ext between problematic, recreational and also traditional uses.The provisions in the solitary Convention are clearly at odds through the UN declaration on native Rights authorized in 2007, which assures to uphold and also protect indigenous cultural practices.To avoid any kind of uncertainty the cocaine production would remain under strict control, it would certainly be adequate to encompass ‘concentrate of coca leaf’ (as a generic term for coca paste or cocaine base) in Schedule I, replacing the coca leaf.In march 2009, the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, sent a letter sent out a letter to the Secretary general of the unified Nations, half Ki Moon, requesting the suspension of the paragraphs 1c and 2e of article 49 the 1961 UN single Convention that prohibit the chewing of coca leaf. He additionally announced that he would start the process to remove the coca leaf from the 1961 solitary Convention.

On July 30, 2009, the Bolivian proposal to amend the 1961 solitary Convention by deleting the responsibility to abolish the chewing of coca sheet was top top the ECOSOC agenda (UN Social and also Economic Council). Parties have actually 18 months to express objections or comments on the Bolivian request, till January 31, 2011.

From Bolivia’s allude of view, the international ar holds in its hand a historic opportunity to correct a misconception about coca leaf chewing by removed both paragraphs that the single Convention. This action will restore the dignity and lawful ideal to the people that consume coca sheet for traditional and also medicinal objectives to legally exercise this cultural and unauthorized practice.

The last count after closure of the January 31 attributed to document objections to the Bolivian amendment involved 17 objections: the US, UK, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Russian Federation, Japan, Singapore, Slovakia, Estonia, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Latvia, Malaysia and Mexico. That way that just 17 the the 184 countries that room Party to the contract (as amended through the 1972 Protocol) have actually filed one objection. We call on them to still reconsider and withdraw your objection before the issue shows up on the UN agenda because that a decision.

6. Where is coca grown?Coca is traditionally cultivated in the lower altitudes of the east slopes of the Andes, or the highlands relying on the types grown, in details in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.

Source: United countries Office ~ above Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

However, coca is a relatively easy plant to grow. In the late 19th century, colonial powers replanted coca external its herbal habitat. Over there was far-reaching coca farming on the island of Java (at the time part of the netherlands East-Indies, currently Indonesia) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), as well as Formosa (at the time a Japanese protectorate, right now Taiwan). In the 1920s Java to be the significant producer that coca in the world.Coca can easily escape the Andes for various other tropical regions if enough pressure come eradicate the tree is applied. Occasionally rumours crop up the coca is get an impressive in the Congo, but there has been no definitive confirmation of its diversion to various other continents.7. Exactly how much execute coca producers benefit from the medicine trade?For cocaine the cost of production and refining in the source countries is just one to two per cent of retail price in emerging or transitional countries. The overwhelming bulk of those associated in the drug profession make very modest incomes. A couple of individuals in the trafficking, smuggling and also wholesale sector make good fortunes yet that accounts because that a tiny share that the complete income.8. What methods have actually been used to handle the cocaine problem?a) compelled eradicationThe key strategy to curb cocaine usage is come decrease need at home and supply native abroad. Because the 1980s aggressive strategies have actually been used to eradicate coca growing in the Andean an ar – mainly instigated through the united States.In Peru and also Bolivia manual required eradication has actually lead to clashes between coca-producers (cocaleros) and military, bring about deaths and human appropriate violations. Colombia is the nation where compelled eradication that illicit farming of coca is enforcement in the many aggressive means by aerial spraying with herbicides (fumigation).Aerial fumigation to adjust in activity a destructive vicious one of chemical pollution, livelihood destruction, migration right into even an ext vulnerable areas, deforestation, displacement and also expansion of the areas of illicit chop cultivation, i beg your pardon then space again fumigated, etc. This leader to erosion the state legitimacy, violation of person rights and also increased peasant assistance for guerrilla movements. This vicious one urgently needs to it is in broken, in defence that the peasants who livelihoods room destroyed, to keep the environment and to improve prospects for conflict resolution.

b) different developmentAnother strategy is to administer coca-growing peasant through alternative development projects, substituting coca with other viable crops. The document of success, however, is a questionable one. The major impediment has been the problems of ‘conditionality’ and ‘sequencing’. Conditionality describes making alternative advancement assistance conditional on prior eradication of coca crops. Sequencing describes the ideal sequence that interventions – e.g. Ensure the eradication actions do not take ar unless small-farmer households have adopted viable and sustainable proponents to make advancement assistance unconditional on reductions in illegal coca cultivation, and also to ensure that eradication is no undertaken till small-farmer family members have embraced viable and also sustainable livelihoods and that interventions are appropriately sequenced. Producers’ institutions should it is in recognized, need to take component in debates and decision do at every levels, through their very own governments, donors and the UN.c) Bolivia: voluntary eradicationWith the choice of the previous coca grower Evo Morales as president that Bolivia, the government adjusted policies. Bolivian legislation now permits a certain amount of coca shrub cultivation come satisfy demand for classic uses.Affiliated members come coca peasant unions are enabled to thrive a tiny plot, well-known as a “cato” (0.16 hectare), come sustain your livelihood. This policy has pacified the coca-growing region, i beg your pardon was previously overshadowed by violent confrontations and human appropriate abuses.Excess cultivation, which is thought about to be for cocaine production, will certainly be eradicated. However, conflicts still take place over designation of classic cultivation areas and eradication campaigns.9. Why is cocaine and also drugs eradication no working?The period of 25 years as deadline because that the ultimate extinction coca collection in 1961 solitary Convention has plainly not been met. In 1998, in ~ the UN general Assembly unique Session on drugs (UNGASS), ignoring decades of absence of success in addressing the problem of illegal crops, set the year 2008 together yet one more deadline through which to get rid of or considerably reduce coca, opium and cannabis. The target has actually not been met either.A Report on global Illicit Drugs markets 1998-2007, i was delegated by the european Commission, discovered no proof that the an international drug trouble has been reduced. The global number of users of cocaine increased over the period. Wholesale and retail prices display a downward trend while purity is rising, which method there is no shortage top top the market.The an easy presumption underlying forced eradication is the one deserve to intervene in the functions of the illegal market, and substantially change the demand-supply equation by merely cutting under the latter. Top top a purely theoretical level this presumption holds part truth: if there is much less available, less have the right to be consumed. In reality, however, it is provided restores chin as lengthy as over there are areas to walk to and people ready to grow it – the so-called balloon effect, describing the tenden­­cy of cultivation to move to new areas in response to local eradication campaigns (when squee­zing one part of a latex balloon, the balloon will bulge out elsewhere).In the case of Bolivia, Colombia and also Peru, the Andean and also Amazon regions are one inexhaustible potential cultivation area, and there room dramatic numbers of impoverished and internally displaced people desperate enough to perform anything come survive.There is an astonishing absence of sound argumentation about the after-effects and influence of policy interventions ~ above the illicit market. If price and also purity advancements are a useful indicator of drug availability, over there is no data to suggest that eradication efforts and the many seizures of shipments have ever before reduced availability on the consumption markets. The control efforts seem, rather, to have added to increased production come balance the losses.

10. What other methods are over there to tackle cocaine use?Cocaine-related problems should be kept in perspective. Usage of cocaine leader to feelings of enhanced energy and may command to better stamina, confidence and also creativity.Health difficulties from the usage of legit substances, an especially alcohol and tobacco, are better than health troubles from cocaine use. Cocaine-related troubles are an ext common for intensive, high-dosage users and either unknown or an extremely rare for occasional, low-dosage users.

Cocaine use need to be cure by giving correct info on its health and wellness effects and addictive qualities, no by incarcerating users. An initial and foremost, one evidence-based health and wellness based approach should be offered priority over regulation enforcement. Comprehensive treatment strategies should be obtainable at every times.A clear difference needs to be made between recreational use and also problematic usage of cocaine. Prevention, treatment and also health treatment measures should focus on problematic use.Harm reduction steps should be developed according to local circumstances and applied to the many problematic users, particularly those utilizing smokable cocaine base paste (PBC, paco, bazuco or cracked in Latin America), i m sorry is harmful and also highly addictive. As soon as sharing homemade pipes, i m sorry is often component of the crack usage ritual, crack users gain sores on your lips and also gums and also are susceptible to diseases such as herpes, tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.Harm palliation measures can include dispensing condoms, pipes, pipe stems, tissues, vaseline and lip enjoyment to counter infections and also sexually sent illnesses, and also should provide information about preventing unsafe crack cigarette smoking habits. An extensive strategies with community participation should develop mechanisms because that social inclusion.A possible strategy is to set up user rooms with clinical supervision, consisting of the advent of marijuana substitution treatment, to lull withdrawal symptoms. These strategies, linked with social projects for homeless people, could help reduce the high mortality rate among crack users and the violence linked with use and dealing.

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11. What is act on the worry of Coca? supports efforts to have a much more modern, up-to-date and also evidence based assessment of the supports the Bolivia federal government in its initiatives to unschedule the coca leaf and also the suspension the the provisions that prohibit the timeless chewing that coca raises the worry at the relevant plan making levels, such together the United nations Commission on narcotic Drugs (CND) criticizes the views of the INCB the urges Bolivia and also Peru to abolish chewing the coca distributes appropriate documentation top top the issue that is tough to find or has actually been posting reports and briefings cultivating the unscheduling of the coca leaf, and against the an adverse consequences of compelled eradication, fumigation in particular.