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It’s the real thing

Ricardo Cortés discusses The condemned coca leaf and the two standards that have existed: One for a major soft drink, another for the native people of South America.

You see, the Single Convention was adopted after years of negotiations led in great part by Harry J. Anslinger, long-time commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Best known today for his fervent campaign against marijuana, Anslinger had a strange relationship with the coca plant: spearheading its prohibition while simultaneously ensuring access to the leaf for a single, powerful consumer, The Coca-Cola Company.

For decades leading up to the signing of the Single Convention, Anslinger worked closely with Coca-Cola to procure a decocainized coca extract for the “secret formula” of the beverage. Cooperating with The Coca-Cola Company and Maywood executives, Anslinger was also their central ally in negotiations leading to the completion of the Single Convention agreement.

Indeed, as it was finally adopted, in addition to banning traditional use of coca leaves, the treaty contains a provision that allows use of the plant for the special purposes of The Coca-Cola Company.

Cortés is the author of “A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola”

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13 comments to It’s the real thing

  • strayan

    What does the UNODC have to say about the dangers of coca leaf:

    the harmful effects of chewing coca leaf, from the point of view of the individual and of the nation, are the following:

    It induces in the individual undesirable changes of an intellectual and moral character. This is especially clear in exceptional cases, and it is much discussed how far this is general. It certainly hinders the chewer’s chances of obtaining a higher social standard;

    It reduces the economic yield of productive work, and therefore maintains a low economic standard of life. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/bulletin_1950-01-01_4_page005.html

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    • ezrydn

      What’s the difference between what our government is doing today and that description? Shouldn’t someone be held liable?

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  • CJ

    hey man, tobacco is one of the few legal drugs (even though they persecute smokers like Japan after the Christian expulsion edicts from Hideyoshi) and while its dangerous and compared even to pot (which everybody knows im not into and dont understand the hype and yes i mustve smoked several pounds in my life in an attempt to figure out the hype. I guess im just a shooter and a sniffer, ah wellsies (yes i did just say ah wellsies.) actually, my weed dilemna reminds me of a piece in Kurt Cobains journal. He was a huge pot smoker as a kid. Everybody knows he was amongst the opiate lover camp as an adult but as a kid he was a huge smoker. In his journal in the final years he laments that he thinks weed may’ve messed up his stomach and screwed with his memory and may cause him depression. He says “all that supposedly harmless weed” and then talks about how it wasn’t enough and so he “climbed the ladder to the poppy.” I think maybe my inability to dig weed, subculture stuff aside, is, being exposed to opiates and xtc first and not just ‘youthful experimentation’ but rather legitimate full scale use of those substances before anything else that when i finally did attempt to become a ‘midnight toker’ amidst all the hype and popularity, i found myself woefully disappointed and confused. Perhaps thats what the problem is. Oh, I’ve heard the ‘youve gotta smoke consistently’ and ‘quality’ arguments. I started to really begin to think there was something wrong with me. I mean, I’d done so much heroin and E that I just couldn’t fathom why either of those two would be behind THC in popularity. So I tried smoking day after day and I think, after a few days, I found myself having a sort of very minor relieved feeling after smoking but that was it. I convinced myself that I wasn’t crazy or wrong but that due to the stygmatization (sp) of heroin, weed lovers just never messed with it out of fear and so all the talk about THC being the best was, as I’d come to the conclusion, being said, without proper comparison and then as my life completely descended into drug use and prohibition, i would find time after time, former devout orthodox smokers converted to full time sniffers and shooters who would smile when they’d reflect on their marijuana youth but seemed completely affirmed in the fact that those days were over and despite the horrors inflicted upon them from prohibition, opiates [and occassionally crack or crystal meth] were now the reigning chemical champions of their hearts. I bet if Id’ve been able to fall into the weed crowd as a kid first before the heroin crowd, maybe my lifes experiences with weed would’ve been different. – Anyway I digress – though I want to note that as an impressionable youngster, there were times I seriously felt like I was a bad person because THC wasn’t ‘working’ for me and as a youngster trying to figure things out about themselves, it was pretty lame to feel like a black sheep amongst the majority of fellow students/kids who were smoking in the bathroom or at the nearby park and looked down on me for what I did. It had become obvious to me and as Im sure you all are aware the functionality of social cliques especially among young people. I’d already been perceived as a member of the larger drug using, disinterested in education crowd by the larger community but in the realm of the drug users, the majority were also the most popular kids [thats how it happened in my situation though im aware that often thats not the case although the people with the weed do tend to get cozy with the popular jocks and everybody else. In my situation alot of the weed smokers were the popular jocks. Well, my school was never known for its athletic prowess however.] and they smoked weed almost exclusively [and drank when possible im sure this sounds familiar to lots of us.] but despite the greater scheme of things suggesting that all us drug users were in the same realm if just using different things, i think it was more a matter of ‘we may be in the same universe but youre in another galaxy on another planet – stay away from us.’ And looking back, we definitely did feel pushed away and I think that the opiate/e minority I think most of us wound up dropping out as a matter of fact. I certainly did.)

    I understand perfectly well why many of us get frustrated with big tobacco and cigarettes. I mean, the biggest thing I think that pisses me off about tobacco is the money they spend backing prohibitive efforts. But as a drug, I think, or I would hope, we can all agree that it is extremely extremely lame. I am even smoking a cigarette while writing this and I totally have no idea why. It does absolutely nothing except make clothes smell and weigh upon your wallet. Yeah I wont argue with anybody that cigarettes are lame and that they totally suck. That being said, let me say this – I have definitely partaken in using crystal meth. I didnt like it though but I gotta say I am perfectly aware of it’s growing popularity. I didn’t enjoy it any of the several times I’d tried it but that doesn’t mean others don’t and the way I look at it is that it’s totally illegal and apart of the drug war. So, I feel very strongly and passionately that if you are a lover of the crystal myth then I want you to be able to get that legally for a reasonable price. Even though I think personally for me it sucks i would fight tooth and nail for the people who want their crystal meth to get their crystal meth.

    So it’s like, I know we have plenty of reason to hate on big tobacco but as a legalization person I am extremely happy and proud that these expensive and otherwise useless little drug sticks are legally available. I mean yeah they kill but nobody lives forever and im not in the business of and I hate that our government is in the business of telling people how to live their lives. IDK I just dont wanna hate on big tobacco though we all know health wise this is an insane hypocrisy because tobacco is far worse than the illegal stuff that we all wanna do.

    you know I’ve gotta be honest, I love history. Some cultures more than others but I am really into history as a personal hobby. I’ve gotta say that Anslinger is one of the people in history I hate the most. He may be, next to that Catholic Bishop who helped start this drug prohibition, the person I hate the most. I would have to believe Pete is aware of the literature out there about him. I find it so sad and pathetic that Anslinger did what he did and in particular the doctor who he loved so much that said all those bad things about weed, I still can’t get over that guy testifying in court about weed and claiming that marijuana turned him into a bat. God, Anslinger is one of the most pathetic figures of history and I hope he is burning in hell.

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    • divadab

      Thanks, CJ, for posting so others can feel your world.

      IMHO, the prohibited drugs are all cheap and no longer protected by patents. How better to make sure you have a guaranteed market for profitable patented drugs sold by the Pharmaceutical Combine than to make the competition illegal?

      The USA – government of by and for the profits of large Combines.

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  • Irie

    Here, there are 2 sides to every story…..

    Researchers at Duke University and elsewhere found that participants who’d reported becoming dependent on pot by age 18 showed a drop in IQ score between ages 13 and 38. The findings suggest pot is harmful to the adolescent brain, the researchers said.

    Not so fast, says an analysis published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Ole Rogeberg of the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo, says the IQ trend might have nothing to do with pot. Rather, it may have emerged from differences among the study participants in socioeconomic status, or SES, which involves factors like income, education and occupation, he says.

    He based his paper on a computer simulation. It traced what would happen to IQ scores over time if they were affected by differences in SES in ways suggested by other research, but not by smoking marijuana. He found patterns that looked just like what the Duke study found.

    Read the rest of the article here:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/marijuana-study-teens-pot-iq-drop-flawed_n_2473936.html

    So, maybe more studies ought to be done? I think there is substantial evidence that there should be more studies done, no?

    Discuss among yourselves.

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  • Matthew Meyer

    Cortés, many here will remember, is also the author of the cannabical children’s book _It’s Just a Plant_–a good read, if you can get it.

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  • divadab

    I’m not sure that Bolivia’s signing on to the UN’s new improved single convention is good news. Why? It still classifies cannabis as a dangerous and addictive drug, right up there with heroin. And Bolivia is now back in the fold with this.

    I want to respect the UN – but this absurdity puts the whole organization into disrepute.

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    • claygooding

      It is good for the Bolivian banks and corporations,,including Coca Cola,because that is where they have their legal fields of coca. As long as Bolivia was not signed into the STC they were subject to trade sanctions from the US and any of countries that wanted to kiss the US govt’s ass.

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  • Don’t know if any of you caught this little bit of admission:

    “Since 1903, Peruvian coca has made its way to a manufacturing plant in Maywood, New Jersey, at the behest of the beverage giant. Over the past century, thousands of tons of leaf have shipped to this discreet facility, where cocaine is removed from the plant and sold separately for medicinal purposes (in 1959, the site was acquired by Stepan Company, which maintains the business today).”

    Medicinal purposes?!? But all I thought was, “Cocaine’s a hell of a drug!”

    At least, that’s what Rick James famously said before his death.

    Who gets to decide “medicinal purposes”?

    And…what do we know about Stepan Company?

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