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”