The Corner

Have a Coke and a Smile

From Fast Company:

Any self-respecting Coke addict knows that the sugary soft drink once contained trace amounts of cocaine. Now Bolivia is putting coca leaves in a suspiciously similar-sounding fizzy drink: Coca-Colla. That’s not a typo, the drink is named after the Colla people of Bolivia’s highlands. A batch of half-liter 12,000 bottles was recently sold for $1.50 a pop in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba, according to the UK Guardian.

In the past, Bolivia has tried to banish the coca leaf–a mild stimulant–from production. But now that coca grower Evo Morales is president, the government has changed its stance. Morales’ administration backs the coca leaf for legitimate uses, including teas, liqueurs, toothpaste, and now Coca-Colla. At the same time, the government has booted drug enforcement officials out of the country.

If all goes well with Coca-Colla and the other coca products proliferating in Bolivia, the government might allow 20,000 hectares of land for coca growing–up from 12,000 hectares currently. The U.S. is, of course, worried that much of the coca will be used for cocaine. It very well might be. But coca has been used for centuries in medicine, religion, and cooking in South America. Is it really fair to enforce our drug laws on Andean culture?


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