Foreign Affairs Minister: Peru will respect traditional use of coca leaf

(LIP-ir) — Peru will continue respecting the traditional use of the coca leaf, said Peru’s Minister of Foreign Affairs after the United Nation’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) issued a recommendation Wednesday to Peruvian and Bolivian governments to make all uses of the coca leaf a criminal offense.

If the recommendation were to be considered by the Andean nations’ governments, chewing coca leaves, drinking coca tea, or even turning coca leaves into baking flour or toothpaste would be considered illegal.

According to the U.N. report, the board called the Governments of Bolivia and Peru "to consider amending their national legislation so as to abolish or prohibit activities such as coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of mate de coca (coca tea) and other products containing coca alkaloids for domestic use and export".

The 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs lists both natural coca and cocaine alongside heroin and opium as narcotics.

On the other hand, Peru’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has clarified that the United Nation’s INCB made similar suggestions in 1988, at which time Peru filed a caveat, stating it would respect the traditional use of the coca leaf in the Andean nation.

It was reported that if the recommendation were to be considered, at least 14,000 farmers, who produce coca leaves legally, would be affected.