|A cure for migraines, diabetes, insomnia? In La Candelaria, a sign on a stand selling coca leaf products boasts of their supposed health benefits.|
In February 2010, the INVIMA, Colombia's food sanitation agency, issued an alert declaring the sale of all products made from coca leaves illegal outside of indigenous territories.
No matter that many coca leaf products, such as teas and balms, have been consumed without incident for decades, if not millenia; No matter that the coca leaf is quite nutritional and, at worst, benign; No matter that every coca leaf made into food, drink or medicine is one which won't end up as cocaine.
|Bags of coca leafs for sale.|
Certainly, one should be cautious with any nostrum or other 'health' food - but not paranoid. Potential buyers can look for INVIMA's seal on the package and decide for themselves. They can also decide how much stock they put into the hygiene policies of a government which requires businesses to label the sink 'lavamanos' so that nobody confuses it with a lamp or an oven, but turns a blind eye to air pollution.
|Coca tea, and coca rum for sale.|
'The use of coca leaf by part of indigenous communities makes up a fundamental part of their millenial traditions and has great medicinal and nutritional benefits," the council wrote.
Of course, coca leaf products never stopped being available throughout Colombia, both on and off of indigenous territories. Prohibition has never worked.
|Try a coca tea.|
So, consume your coca leaf products if you want to.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours