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When travelling in Chile, tea from coca leaves was something you could buy at regular places. It is even sold as a preventive to altitude sickness in places like San Pedro de Atacama. After feeling the horrible effects of Altitude sickness, I did try Mate di Coca before going on my next to the higher altiplanos. Weather it as a placebo or not, it seemed to work. I was considering buying a package of coca tea to bring back as souvenir, but I hesitate since I didn't know if it would be considered legal. Google provided mixed answers. From a big no, to a maybe in some countries, to yes because you can't make cocaine out of tea from coca leaves.

What is factual? Can you bring Mate de Coca as a souvenir?

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1 Answer 1

This was covered in the early 20th century by some other laws, but in 1961, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was established by the UN and as of May 2013, the Single Convention has 184 state parties. The Holy See plus all members of the UN are state parties, with the exception of Afghanistan, Chad, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, South Sudan, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The coca leaf is listed on Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention together with cocaine and heroin.

The Convention determined that "The Parties shall so far as possible enforce the uprooting of all coca bushes which grow wild. They shall destroy the coca bushes if illegally cultivated" (Article 26), and that, "Coca leaf chewing must be abolished within twenty-five years from the coming into force of this Convention" (Article 49, 2.e).

And why?

The historic rationale for international prohibition of coca leaf in the 1961 Single Convention comes from "The Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf study" published in 1950. It was requested of the United Nations by the permanent representative of Peru, and was prepared by a commission that visited Bolivia and Peru briefly in 1949 to "investigate the effects of chewing the coca leaf and the possibilities of limiting its production and controlling its distribution." It concluded that the effects of chewing coca leaves were negative, even though chewing coca was defined as a habit, not an addiction.

Peru and Bolivia, however, have made an amendment, which you can read further about on that page, which is how you're able to have it there. There are some other exceptions supported by some countries, but basically - in Europe - no, it's not permitted...yet.

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Where does Coca Cola process their coca leaves? –  hippietrail May 26 at 12:07
    
@hippietrail In Maywood, New Jersey, according to Wikipedia (cited to the New York Times). –  David Richerby May 26 at 12:44
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"In the United States, the Stepan Company is the only manufacturing plant authorized by the Federal Government to import and process the coca plant,[61] which it obtains mainly from Peru and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. Besides producing the coca flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, the Stepan Company extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which it sells to Mallinckrodt, a St. Louis, Missouri, pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify cocaine for medicinal use." - Wikipedia –  Mark Mayo May 26 at 12:54
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and even if it didn't fall under the class 1 drugs restrictions, the leaves would likely fall under bans on importing agricultural products. –  jwenting May 26 at 13:10
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@markmayo indeed, but I was referring to bringing them in small quantities and the general rule. There is no "general ban" as was claimed –  andra May 27 at 6:05

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