Coca Yes, Cocaine No?
A decade-old demand to remove the coca leaf from strict international drugs controls has come to the fore again. Time has come to repair an historical error responsible for including the leaf amongst the most hazardous classified substances, causing severe consequences for the Andean region.
A simple leaf of an ancient plant will feature prominently on the international agenda this year. As international relations and specialised mechanisms for managing the international drugs trade have evolved, a decade-old demand to remove the coca leaf from strict international drugs controls has come to the fore again in recent months.
Time has come to repair an historical error responsible for including the leaf amongst the most hazardous classified substances, having caused severe consequences for the Andean region. There is enough scientific evidence to substantiate the claim that the traditional use of coca has no negative health effects; that it serves positive therapeutic, sacred and social functions; and therefore that its classification as a narcotic drug was a mistake.
This issue of Drugs and Conflict explains the motives, context and range of this petition, as well as the procedures that need to be followed to reach this objective. The real options for a rescheduling will depend on a series of factors, not least the political will to face all dimensions involved in this complex issue from an objective, evidence-based perspective. For every member of the international community, this year will become a moment to decide whether to maintain coca under the control of the UN Conventions, or to dare recognize this mistake and show the will to correct it.
TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Papers Nr 13