Consultative group on coca leaf problems


The coca leaf problem


Pages: 25 to 37
Creation Date: 1964/01/01

Consultative group on coca leaf problems

Lima, 26 November - 7 December 1962


The Inter-American Consultative Group on Narcotics Control, which met at Rio de Janeiro in 1961, 1 adopted a resolution on the coca leaf problem by which it invited the United Nations to consider favourably requests of governments for technical assistance in organizing a seminar for the exchange of the experiences of the countries concerned with the problem of coca leaf chewing, since such a seminar would be helpful in adopting the most effective approach towards this question.

In pursuance of this resolution, the Governments of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru requested the formation of the Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems, which was organized under the special programme of technical assistance in narcotics control established by General Assembly resolution 1395 (XIV).

At the invitation of the Government of Peru the Group met at Lima, where the opening meeting was held on 27 November 1962 on the eleventh floor of the Hotel Crillon. In his opening address the Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare, General Dr. Víctor Solano Castro, on behalf of the Government Junta of Peru, cordially welcomed the participants and thanked the United Nations for its assistance in organizing the seminar. He then referred to the situation in Peru, the world's leading coca-leaf producer. Since its production far exceeded the quantities required for medical uses, Peru was placed with regard to other countries in an awkward position which it wished to remedy as speedily as possible. Without ignoring the implications for Peru's economy, he felt that the holding of the seminar would give the countries concerned with the problem an opportunity to exchange ideas and to propose practical solutions which would make it possible speedily to fulfil the international undertakings subscribed by his country and by other countries of America that faced similar problems.

The meetings of the Group were attended by senior officials from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru who were especially interested in the problem, and by representatives of the United Nations Information Centre, FAO, ILO, WHO, the Pan-American Sanitary Bureau, UNESCO and UNICEF. The United States of America sent observers. Sixty persons in all participated in the Group's work.

Bulletin on Narcotics, Vol. XV, No. 2.

The necessary services for the Consultative Group's work were supplied by the United Nations in co-operation with the Government of Peru. That government had, by Presidential Decree of 24 May 1962, set up a Special Commission, membership of which was honorary, to organize the seminar, establish the necessary contacts with the Resident Representatives of the United Nations Technical Assistance Board, and prepare the scientific documentation to be contributed by Peru. The Special Commission consisted of the following persons: Dr. Carlos Quirós Salinas, Director-General of Public Health; Dr. Carlos Monge; Dr. Edwin Letts, Director of Congresses and Conferences, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Alfredo Lynch Cordero, Director of the Special Public Health Service; Dr. Fortunato Carranza, Chairman of the Board of Administration and Control, Government Industrial Laboratories for Coca and its Derivatives; Dr. Baltazar Caravedo, Chief, Mental Health Division; Dr. Julio López Guillén, Director of Pharmacies; Mr. César de Azambuja Reyes, Police Superintendent, Criminal Investigation; Mr. Alejandro Castañeda Pastor, Administrator, State Coca Monopoly and the present writer, who acted as Secretary of the Special Commission.

The participants attended a projection of slides presented by Dr. Marcel Granier-Doyeux, United Nations Scientific Consultant, showing views taken at the time of the visit to Bolivia and Peru by the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf in 1949, and certain other matters of interest to the participants.

The Group elected by acclamation General Dr. Víctor Solano Castro, Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare of Peru, as Honorary Chairman and Dr. Guillermo Jauregui Guachalla, Minister of Public Health of Bolivia as Honorary Vice-Chairman. Dr. Carlos Quirós Salinas, Director-General of Public Health of Peru, was elected Chairman, and Dr. Walter Fortón, Director of Technical Training, Ministry of Public Health of Bolivia and Dr. Edgard Velasco Arboleda, Chief of the Administrative Section, Ministry of Public Health of Colombia, were elected Vice-Chairmen by acclamation. Dr. Ricardo Palma acted as liaison officer between the Government of Peru and the United Nations Secretariat.

The Government of Peru, through the Special Commission, arranged for participants to visit the archaeological sites of Pachacamac and Puruchuco, where remains of vegetable and animal food were to be seen, the high protein content of that food perhaps explaining why the indigenous inhabitants of the lowest social class during the Inca period did not chew coca leaf, a habit then confined to the upper classes.

The meetings of the Consultative Group were held in public and the discussions were followed with great interest by numerous journalists, who gave wide coverage in their newspapers to the work of the Group. The Public was informed of the opening of the meeting at a special press conference given by General Dr. Víctor Solano Castro, Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare of Peru, with the help of Dr. Adolf Lande, Director of the Consultative Group.

A number of interesting and valuable technical documents, prepared especially for the Consultative Group, were available to participants. Sixteen of these were prepared by the United Nations Secretariat and twenty-seven by various participants, including the representatives of specialized agencies. It is worth mentioning that participants from Peru contributed a total of fifteen technical documents, thereby showing the keenness of their participation in the work of the Consultative Group.


Dr. Macedonio Fernández de Obieta, Director of the Pharmacies, Drugs and Medicaments Division, at the Ministry of Social Welfare and Public Health of Argentina, described the present situation in his country with regard to the coca leaf problem and the repressive measures taken to combat illicit traffic in coca leaf and cocaine. He referred to Ministerial Order No. 34,869 of 22 May 1951, which conforms with the recommendations of Economic and Social Council resolution 548 E (XVIII) urging the progressive limitation of the importation of coca leaf for the purposes of chewing as an effective means of gradually eradicating the habit. This Ministerial Order declares that coca leaf chewing is harmful and a vice, and urges the public health authorities of the provinces of Salta, Jujuy and Tucumán, the only ones where it exists, to adopt in their respective areas the necessary measures to set in motion plans for the permanent dissemination of advice and warnings about the harmful effects and side-effects of habitual coca leaf chewing.


Dr. Guillermo Jáuregui Guachalla, Minister of Public Health of Bolivia, gave an historical account of the coca leaf problem and paid tribute to the late Dr. Carlos Gutiérrez Noriega, the Peruvian scientist who devoted his efforts to its solution, and to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf which visited Bolivia and Peru in 1949-1950. He added that the Government of Bolivia considers this habit, which goes back to prehistoric times, to be the most striking expression of the under-development of the rural population of his country. The disputed effects of coca leaf chewing on fatigue, and its undoubted effect of removing hunger, have for a long time contributed to keep the Aymara and Quichua peoples in a state of malnutrition. He referred to the Bolivian National Development Plan, which states that no less than 23,500 hectares of good subtropical agricultural land in Bolivia are devoted to the cultivation of the coca bush, with an average production of 12,000 tons, 50% of which is used for chewing and the remainder for the production of cocaine hydrochloride for export. However, coca leaf consumption is estimated by other sources at 18,250 tons a year.

By virtue of Presidential Decree 112,132 of 26 January 1962, an Inter-Ministerial Committee representing the Ministries of Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Public Health was set up to direct rural development; for there are in the rural areas of Bolivia 560,000 families, comprising two-thirds of the inhabitants of the country, which are barely able to provide for their basic needs, and the Bolivian Government wishes to incorporate them into their respective communities and give them faith in their future.

The experience of the past few years has shown the accuracy of the recommendations and forecasts of the Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf which visited Bolivia in May 1960: the improvement in the social, economic and cultural conditions of the peasants of Bolivia has resulted, among other things, in a substantial reduction in the coca leaf chewing habit. However, a slight increase in production has recently been observed in response to a demand for the clandestine manufacture of cocaine: cocaine factories, encouraged by the high prices paid by traffickers, are gradually increasing in number notwithstanding the strict provisions of the Act of 10 January 1962.

A solution of the problem may be sought in the promotion, introduction or expansion, with the help and experience of technicians and economic and financial support from international institutions, of other crops easier to grow and nutritionally valuable. Joint action by Peru and Bolivia to control and regulate the manufacture and sale of cocaine would also help to eradicate its clandestine manufacture.

Proof of the efforts of the Government of Bolivia to solve the many problems to which the coca leaf gives rise is given by the following Decree issued by Dr. Victor Paz Estenssoro, Constitutional President of the Republic of Bolivia:


With the introduction of the Agrarian Reform and the improvement in the social, economic and cultural conditions of the peasant class, the coca leaf chewing habit has decreased.

The preparation of and traffic in cocaine have, on the other hand, increased; and -

It is the duty of the State to protect the physical and mental health of the public by enacting, not only penalties for those unlawful acts, but also regulations governing the cultivation of coca;


Article 1. With effect from 1 January 1963, all land on which coca is cultivated shall be registered, to facilitate control and obtain accurate statistics of coca-leaf production.

Article 2. To start new or extend existing plantations of the aforesaid product is absolutely prohibited.

Article 3. On land at present under coca the Ministry of Agriculture shall progressively replace that crop by others, giving preference to food crops, and for that purpose shall provide all possible facilities.

Article 4. To render the aforesaid measures effective the government shall request international organizations to exercise adequate supervision and control and to provide technical and economic assistance.

Article 5. The Ministries of Public Health and Agriculture shall issue regulations to give effect to this Decree.

Done at the Government Palace in the city of La Paz on the 10th day of January in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty two.

Dr. Walter Julio Fortón, Director of Technical Training at the Ministry of Public Health of Bolivia, spoke of work done on the feeding of rural communities and described the operation of the Centres of Rural Development. He referred to the current efforts to expand the area of cultivated land by irrigation projects, and to the Centres' promotion of livestock breeding by artificial insemination, extension of artificial pasture land, and introduction of new breeds of cattle, the advantages of which have been demonstrated at the special centres of the Ministry of Agriculture. He considered that the success achieved by the farmers' co-operatives has helped to overcome the initial resistance of the peasants, who now seek advice on organization.

He referred to the rural public health programme and to the Integrated Food and Nutrition Programme, which has held a seminar for all the senior staff of the Centres and has organized three courses of study for rural teachers working in each Centre's area, with the following aims:

  1. Systematic teaching of the principles of food and nutrition;

  2. Application of this knowledge in schools and communities through school and family farms;

  3. Improvement of the feeding habits of the rural population.


General Dr. Luiz Paulino de Mello, the Brazilian participant, made an interesting statement on the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs in his country, which has no coca leaf chewing problem but is affected by the illicit traffic in cocaine. He described the Brazilian law on narcotics and the composition and functions of the National Narcotics Control Commission, and urged participants to procure the application in their respective countries of the measures recommended by the conference held at Rio de Janeiro in 1960.

He stated that the participants were engaged in a great, battle to rid the South American continent of cocaine and enable its inhabitants, released from that slavery, to enjoy a freer life and strive to improve their present difficult condition under democracy.


Dr. Victor Manuel Cereceda Arancibia, Chief of the Pharmacy Section of the National Health Service of Chile, stated that his country was not a producer of coca leaf and had forbidden as early as 1957 its importation for chewing, thereby complying with international regulations and recommendations. However, the illicit importation of coca leaf, chiefly from Bolivia, had raised serious problems.

The frontier areas of Tarapacá and Antofagasta include an extensive, irregular and inaccessible mountain mass where control is almost impossible. A Government Commission has been appointed to study the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs; its Chairman is the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Health and its members include senior officials of the Criminal Investigation Department, the International Police of Chile, the Chilean Police Headquarters, the Customs Administration, the National Health Service and the courts of justice. It is considering severer and more uniform legal and administrative measures and procedures against the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs which, besides coca leaf, include purified cocaine and cocaine paste from clandestine factories in Peru and Bolivia. About 20% of these drugs feed the illicit domestic trade, and 80% find their way into the international traffic.

He added that his country was particularly concerned with the problem discussed at the meeting, and expressed his hope that the Consultative Group would solve the grave problem facing the participating countries and international organizations. He wished the meeting success in its work, on which depended the protection of the physical and mental health of the peoples of America, and thus their human rights and dignity.


Dr. Gerardo López Narvaez, Chief of the Technical Division at the Ministry of Public Health of Colombia, said that certain degrading vices such as alcoholism, prostitution, cocainism and marihuana addiction affect mainly those sectors of the population which are still in the early stages of social development and suffer from illiteracy and ignorance. He recalled that the children of coca addicts are markedly deficient in intelligence and many of them cannot learn to read. He described Colombia's programme of primary education by radio: every day a powerful radio transmitter at Bogotá broadcasts lessons which are received by small battery sets even in the remotest areas of the country which have no electricity. A natural community leader explains the lessons to all present. The results obtained with this programme have been described as excellent, and he believed that its impact on communities affected by the coca vice would contribute towards the solution of the problem.


Dr. Guillermo E. Vasco C., of Ecuador, stated that there was practically no coca addiction in his country in spite of a relatively large Indian population. In colonial times certain Indian communities used to grow coca and chew the leaves, but the penal laws enacted by Phillip II prohibiting the cultivation and use of the plant did away with the chewing habit. The indigenous inhabitants of Ecuador, unlike those of Peru and Bolivia, are not compelled to toil and suffer hardship in mines or perform other heavy tasks which have been mentioned as causes of coca leaf chewing. Besides, they have always had a variety of vegetable food, in sufficient if not lavish quantity, and also a small supply of meat proteins from wild and domestic animals.

There is no systematic planting of coca in Ecuador, but it grows wild in certain remote mountain regions, so that certain persons of mixed blood and aliens can manufacture cocaine unlawfully for the international illicit traffic.

Ecuadorian law on narcotics is very strict: it absolutely forbids individuals, corporations and foundations to sow, grow and trade in coca and make drugs or preparations from it. The Social Welfare Boards are responsible for the importation and distribution of narcotic drugs. The penalties applicable to narcotics offences are very severe: they include fines, imprisonment, seizure and destruction of plantations, and expulsion from the country of alien offenders. In addition. an informer is rewarded with 50 per cent of the fine.

Ecuador is greatly concerned that the problems which affect the health and prosperity of the Indian population shall be solved by the countries concerned jointly and with the assistance of all civilized nations.

United States of America

The observers from the United States of America described the international traffic in cocaine which affects their country. They also distributed documents containing information on the operation of the international gangs specializing in the illicit cocaine traffic.


The participants from Peru were:

Dr. Carlos Quirós Salinas, Director-General of Health.

Dr. Carlos Alfaro, Chief, Health Education Division, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Carlos Avalos Jibaja, Chief, Narcotics Division, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Mr. Jorge Aliaga Becerra, Representative of the Agraria University.

Dr. Fernando Cabieses Molina, Director-General of the National Health and Social Welfare Fund.

Dr. Baltazar Caravedo, Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health Division, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Fortunato Carranza, Chairman of the Board of Administration and Control, Government Industrial Laboratories for Coca and its Derivatives.

Dr. Carlos Collazos Chiriboga, Chief, Nutrition Institute, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Mr. Alejandro Castañeda Pastor, Administrator of the State Coca Monopoly.

Mr. Germán del Carpio Salas, Director, Police Health Service.

Mr. Reynaldo Crespo, Engineer, Director of the Molina Experimental Station.

Mr. César de Azambuja Reyes, Police Superintendent, Criminal Investigation, Narcotics Division.

Dr. Luis F. Escurra Vega, Commandant of the Medical Service, Air Ministry.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez Andreu, Director, Medical Training Division, Ministry of Education.

Mr. Héctor Grisolle, Legal Adviser of the National Executive Council for the Campaign against the Traffic in Narcotic Drugs.

Dr. Gustavo Hermoza, Director of Health Areas, Representative of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare in the National Plan for the Integration of the Indigenous Population.

Dr. Edwin Letts, Director of International Congresses and Conferences, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr. Julio E. López Guillén, Director of the Pharmacies Division, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Alfredo Lynch Cordero, Director of the Special Public Health Service.

Dr. Dacio López Guerrero, Chief of the Consultative Section, Procurement Division; Ministry of Labour and Indigenous Affairs.

Ing. Carlos Martinez Claure, Engineer, Inspector General of Agriculture.

Dr. Carlos Monge.

Mr. Julio Muñoz Puglisevich, Technical Adviser, National Health and Social Welfare Fund.

Dr. Ricardo Palma, Mental Health Division, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Carlos A. Ricketts, Doyen of the Medical Corps, Arequipa.

Dr. Manuel Salcedo Fernandini, Chief of the Social Welfare Division, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Ramón Vallenas, Director of the Occupational Therapy Institute, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Victor Valverde de E., Director of Technical Training Services, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

Dr. Vicente Zapata Ortiz, Professor of Pharmacology at the Caye-tano Heredia Faculty of Medicine, Peruvian University of Medical and Biological Sciences.

The Peruvian representatives made a valuable contribution to the work of the Consultative Group by describing their personal experiences and thorough investigations. They dealt with the history of coca leaf chewing, the chemical pharmacology of the leaf, its alkaloid content, methods of chewing, the harmful effects of production and chewing, coca cultivation, the taxation of production, and its impact on the national economy. Lastly, they indicated the social and economic aspects of the problem and its possible solutions, such as substitute crops, promotion of animal husbandry in the Andean regions, industrial development, promotion of handicrafts, organization and development of rural communities, improvement of public health services, educational plans, and enforcement measures against the illicit traffic in coca leaf and cocaine.

To save space, I shall not summarize here the statements of the Peruvian participants, since the thoughts of the Consultative Group are contained in its report, which is clear, precise and relevant. I shall accordingly reproduce below, for the benefit of the readers of the Bulletin on Narcotics, part III of that report, dealing with the coca leaf problem. First, however, I shall give a summary of the statements made by the representatives of the specialized agencies of the United Nations.


Dr. Hans Halbach, Chief of the Addiction-Producing Drugs Section of WHO, stressed the harmful character of the coca leaf chewing habit, and quoted the opinion expressed by the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction, at its third meeting, that coca chewing comes so closely to the characteristics of addiction that it must be defined and treated as an addiction, in spite of the occasional absence of some of those characteristics.

Pan American Sanitary Bureau

Dr. Alvaro Simoes, of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, said that coca leaf chewing was a social problem within the responsibility of governments, and recommended the following measures:

  1. Extension of national health services to the areas with the largest coca leaf consumption;

  2. Improvement of public health services to enable them to deal with grave Social and public health problems, such as coca leaf chewing;

  3. Integration of the public health services into programmes of public health education and applied nutrition which can directly influence the causes and effects of this harmful habit, and which are now facilitated by the increasing use of transistor radio receivers among the Andean population;

  4. Diversification of the rural economy to give the labour force of some 30,000 peasants now cultivating 20,000 hectares of coca an alternative occupation that will raise their living level without detriment either to the national income or to per capita incomes;

  5. Expansion of school system, to raise the educational level of the rural population, particularly of its adults, and educate them out of a vice which, because it belongs to their ancestral culture, is difficult to eradicate.

The public health and nutrition programmes of the Government of Peru have, he said, the following aims:

  1. To train teachers in nutrition, food and its production (including market gardening and animal husbandry), so that these subjects can be taught in local schools;

  2. To extend this basic training to the family and the community through the rural extension service, to improve methods of production and consumption of food (since the highlands have an essentially subsistence agriculture, any increase in agricultural and animal production is bound to have a decisive effect on family nutrition);

  3. To expand instruction on food and nutrition at schools, health centres, public health posts, mothers' clubs, young farmers' clubs, women's clubs and other centres that provide education in health and agriculture;

  4. To extend this programme progressively to all primarily schools in the Andean region.


Dr. Carlos D'Ugard, Regional Director of the Andean-Indian Project, and Dr. Danilo Jimenez Veiga, ILO consultant, who both represented the International Labour Organisation, made statements on the work done on that project and its results, and spoke of development of handicrafts and vocational training as possible solutions of the coca leaf chewing problem.

They said that the Andean-Indian Project, notwithstanding its great financial and human limitations, has caught the attention of the public authorities concerned and of the people whom it benefits. It is a practical programme which is not only national but is also acquiring international features. National energies have been released and directed into channels where they may solve an important problem of this century; methods of action have been devised which have acknowledged objective value or are sufficiently flexible and dynamic to be adapted to a variety of existing conditions. In the international sphere, co-operation has been established with the leading international organizations, and even with governments and with employer and worker organizations of countries outside Latin America, for a joint and co-ordinated effort of human brotherhood.

Reference was made to experiments in the vocational training workshop at Cotoca, Bolivia, where the pupils, like the majority of the indigenous inhabitants, were in the habit of chewing coca leaves when they began their course of study. At first, chewing was not forbidden in class. After a few months of adequate nutrition and suitable education at the workshop, the pupils began to stop chewing of their own accord, so that by the end of the course they had all completely given up the habit. The formal prohibition of coca leaf chewing was introduced gradually and was accepted by all without protest, since chewing had been proved unnecessary under the better living conditions which prevailed during the course.

Other speakers also pointed out that improvement in the living conditions of the indigenous inhabitants depended not only upon the success of a vocational training or other isolated programme, but on joint and co-ordinated action, in particular to raise the rural inhabitants' income levels, which can only be done by improving the agricultural and animal husbandry on which their economy is based.


Ing. Argos Rodriguez spoke on substitute crops, the promotion of animal husbandry in the highlands where coca is consumed, and the contribution that could be made to the solution of the problem by resettlement programmes adopted as part of a general policy. He analysed the technical, agricultural and economic aspects of coca cultivation.

He considered it essential to intensify agricultural research in order to establish conclusively which crops would be really profitable. To that end he suggested that use should be made of existing experimental stations and the research borne on the national budgets or paid for with funds from other sources not connected with coca cultivation.

The so-called indigenous crops should be fostered, such as quinua ( Chenopodium quinoa) , ulluco ( Ullucus tuberosus) , oca ( Oxalis tuberosa) , achita ( Amarantius caudatus) , cañahua ( Chenopodium palidicaule) , and mashua ( Tropeolum tuberosus) , all of which had been important in the diet of the Incas and some of which are rich in proteins. They would all require modern methods to raise yields and so benefit large numbers of indigenous inhabitants who are now virtually destitute.

** *

As already indicated, part III of the report is reproduced below.

The coca leaf problem

19. "Coca leaf chewing, although already practised at the time of the Incas, became a mass problem in the Andean region only after the Spanish conquest. Since then, it has become an important element in the working of the hierarchically organized society established by the conquerors. From that time on, until rather recent times, it has generally or at least very widely been held that coca leaf chewing is indispensable under the economic, social, ethnic and climatic conditions of the highland population; but already in an early period there were some disinterested voices which pointed to the harmful effects of the chewing and demanded its prohibition. In fact, an early Spanish king attempted to enforce such a measure, but he succeeded only in a limited part of the affected highland region; he had to retreat where strong vested, particularly mining, interests forced such action.

20. "The whole history of the problem can principally be explained by this existence of powerful groups motivated by what they considered their interests, guided by prejudice and self-deception and hostile to reform. This does not mean that the people in question, although in error, were not arguing in good faith. All this has, of course, been facilitated by the complexity of the problem.

21. "The Consultative Group attempted a comprehensive review of the problem of coca leaf chewing. Since it was guided by the consideration that the chewing as a mass phenomenon constituted only a particular aspect of the economic and social problems of the highland Indians, its discussions represented in fact a rather comprehensive seminar on the economic and social development of the affected Andean region. The papers submitted to the Group and listed in this report give some indication of the wide substantive scope and variety of subjects considered by the Seminar. The existing situation was surveyed and remedial measures were suggested. The quantitative and geographic aspects of the problem were reviewed. Medical (including, in particular, pharmacological), economic, sociological, anthropological, educational, political, legal, administrative, and other questions were expertly discussed.

22. "It is not intended and it would indeed be unfeasible to summarize in this report the discussion of all subjects which were studied by the group in its extensive review of the problems of economic and social development of the Andean region in general, and of the coca leaf in particular. A few points may, however, be indicated which guided the group in adopting its recommendations.

23. "It was unanimously agreed that coca leaf chewing was a harmful habit which should be abolished. This does, however, not mean that all pharmacological problems involved were solved; the group did not express an agreed opinion on the quantities of cocaine which were absorbed by the chewers or on the exact physiological processes by which this was done.

24. "The group was aware that the habitual chewing of the coca leaf differs from addiction to morphine and morphine-like drugs in that the chewing does not cause real physical dependence. Whether the coca leaf or cocaine was to be considered addiction-producing depended on the terminology used. Under the definition of the World Health Organization, coca leaf chewing may be referred to as a kind of addiction. It was, however, noted that other scientific definitions required the element of physical dependence and thus did not cover the chewing.

25. "It was agreed that this question of terminology was not really important. What was essential was that there was no doubt that coca leaf chewing, although different from morphine addiction, was harmful and should be abolished.

26. "It was also the general consensus that not all elements of the aetiology of the chewing were clarified. It was therefore recommended that the governments principally concerned should undertake epidemiological studies of the habit. It was, however, agreed that such studies should not delay the measures taken or to be taken with a view to the abolition of the chewing within the shortest possible period. Such studies may, however, facilitate an improvement of the methods adopted towards this end.

27. "There was also consensus that only relatively few chewers were influenced by neurotic or psychopathic conditions such as those which were the principal cause of drug addiction in an industrialized society. The chewing was generally a response to the very difficult economic, social and harsh climatic conditions under which the highland Indians lived. It removes hunger, kills the appetite, and enables the endurance of great physical strain. These qualities of the leaf must appear very attractive in poor regions which have an unfavourable climate, generally a soil not very suitable for agriculture, primitive means of transportation, and which produce insufficient quantities of food; but these seemingly attractive qualities of the coca leaf are even more damaging to the health, productive capacity and life expectancy of the chewer than the continuous intake of cocaine. A vicious circle thus arises. The lack of adequate food frequently causes the chewing which, in turn, reduces the productive capacity of the chewer and prevents him from earning enough to enable his adequate nutrition. The coca leaf problem is thus basically an economic and social question. Since economic and social development is already, on more general grounds, a necessity for the Andean regions and for the countries concerned as a whole, the chewing constitutes only a particular aspect of this serious problem.

28. "The problem is economic because it can safely be expected that by improvement of the economic conditions, and in particular of the living standard of the affected population, the incidence of coca leaf chewing can be radically reduced. It is, however, also economic in several other ways. A relatively large number of people derive their livelihood from the cultivation of the coca bush or from the trade in the leaves. Substitute earning facilities must be created for these people if and when the production of and the trade in the leaves is progressively limited to medical, scientific and other legitimate needs in accordance with the gradual abolition of the chewing. Without such substitution not only the people engaged in the cultivation of the bush or in the coca leaf trade would suffer, but the national economy as a whole might seriously be affected by the repercussions, on other trades, of the loss of income of a considerable part of the population. Creation of substitute earning facilities, however, would also be a very important part of the process of economic development leading to an increased living standard of the whole population of the Andean regions and thus to an essential reduction of the number of chewers.

"Considerable revenue is also received by some governments from the coca leaf. Substitute sources of public income would have to be found.

29. "Various economic measures were considered which would facilitate the radical reduction of coca bush cultivation resulting from the abolition of the chewing and the raising of the living standards of the highland Indians practising the chewing.

30. "Many crops were considered which could be substituted for the coca bush. It was pointed out that it was important that the substitute crop would have to be equally or even more profitable than the coca bush. The need for improving the roads and generally the transportation facilities was noted in this connexion. The question of marketing was considered. It was mentioned that coca bush cultivation often led to soil erosion and that the bush was often grown on poor soil not suitable for other crops. In many cases, afforestation or complete abandonment of the soil would be necessary. In such cases financial compensation for the growers of the bush would be required.

31. "Several other activities were discussed by which the former growers of the bush and other members of the highland population might earn a satisfactory livelihood. Animal husbandry was suggested in view of the shortage of protein foods in these regions. It was however mentioned that not all parts of the highlands concerned were suitable for cattle raising which could be carried on more economically in other parts of the national territory.

32. "The development of non-agricultural activities such as handicrafts and industrial enterprises to substitute for coca bush growing was discussed. Pre-investment problems such as the construction of transportation facilities were taken into account. The problem of resettlement of highland inhabitants, particularly of those for whom no satisfactory substitute livelihood could be found and the difficulties inherent in such population transfers were examined.

33. "Various educational problems were studied. The importance of improved general education, in particular that of elimination of illiteracy, and of occupational training, for the raising of living standards, was emphasized. Better educational standards would also be helpful in efforts to convince the highland Indians of the harmful character of their chewing. The usefulness of nutrition education and of propaganda intended to create an atmosphere favourable to the abolition of coca leaf chewing was also stressed. The Seminar expressed its strong view that the payment of wages in coca leaves should not be tolerated and should be subject to effective penal sanctions.

34. "The need for improvement of public health services was discussed. The lack of facilities for satisfactory and healthy leisure time activities was mentioned. It was generally agreed that the development of community life would constitute an important weapon in the campaign against the coca leaf chewing. Attention should also be given to the medical, social and moral rehabilitation of coca leaf chewers.

35. "The Group was of the opinion that in taking economic and social measures such as those referred to above, governments should be aware of the necessity and of their duty to integrate the highland Indians in the economic and social life of their nations. National and international efforts on the lines of the present Andean Indian Programme were commended and should be increased.

36. "The Seminar was of the opinion that the abolition of coca leaf chewing and the reduction of coca leaf production to the quantities needed for medical, scientific and other legitimate purposes, was not only in the national interest, but would also constitute an act of international solidarity with the countries which were victims of the international cocaine traffic. Without the abolition of the chewing and the controlled limitation of coca leaf production to legitimate requirements a really successful campaign against this traffic was very difficult indeed, if not impossible.

37. "The Consultative Group was aware of and wished to commend the great efforts made by the governments concerned to advance the economic and social well-being of their populations and in particular also of their indigenous inhabitants. It recognized, however, also the great difficulties involved. It expressed its satisfaction that all governments concerned had adopted as their policy the aim of prohibiting coca leaf chewing and of reducing coca leaf production to the quantities needed for legitimate purposes. The members of the Seminar agreed that while it was desirable to achieve this aim as speedily as feasible, a gradual approach towards this task would have to be taken in those countries which had a particularly serious coca leaf problem.

"It was mentioned in this connexion that the aim of over-all reduction of coca leaf production did not exclude some extension of the cultivation of such varieties of the bush as were particularly suitable for the extraction of cocaine for medical purposes or for the preparation of the flavouring agent used in the manufacture of beverages.

38. "The Group was also of the opinion that effective control of coca leaf production required the establishment of national monopolies which should have the exclusive right of licensing coca bush cultivators, of designating the plots on which the bush may be grown, of buying the crops and of the wholesale and international trade in the coca leaves. It was agreed that the creation of such a complete monopoly was not immediately possible where the necessary administrative conditions did not yet exist. The Group reviewed with appreciation the measures taken (cadastral survey, census of coca bush plants) and organizational structures erected by governments with a view to establishing complete coca leaf monopolies.

39. "The participants in the Seminar, however, considered that immediate and strong measures must be taken to intensify the fight against the illicit traffic in cocaine, to improve international co-operation among the governments concerned and with the United Nations and Interpol and to ensure the effective punishment of illicit traffickers.

40. "The Seminar noted that the governments concerned often did not have sufficient means (financial and otherwise) to carry out the necessary economic and social measures, to make up the loss in tax revenue, to compensate landowners, etc. It was generally agreed that international financial and technical assistance would urgently be needed. Not only the help of international organizations of public law should be enlisted, but also that of individual governments and private non-profit organizations willing to help. It was pointed out in this connexion that food supplied from resources of the UNO-FAO World Food Programme would be very helpful in the transitional period of shifting from coca bush cultivation to other crops. The assistance given by international organizations in the implementation of the Andean Indian programme was specially appreciated.

"It would also be helpful in this context if governments would only permit the import of coca leaves produced in Bolivia or Peru or of crude cocaine manufactured in these countries. The reduction of coca leaf production in the countries concerned should also not be offset by the commencement of, or increase in, coca leaf production elsewhere.

"Several participants of the Seminar, however, called the attention of the Group to the fact that the means of' international organizations for assistance were limited and that it could be expected that the assistance which would be given by friendly foreign governments would, however generous, also be relatively modest. The governments having a coca leaf problem would therefore have to rely primarily on their own resources.

41. "The need for co-ordinating national and international efforts and means as well as for enlisting public opinion of the countries concerned, of the region and of the whole world was also emphasized. National Committees composed of representatives of all government departments in question and of interested private organizations should be established to this end. In these programmes of co-ordinated action, the needs of the indigenous population should particularly be kept in mind. Periodical conferences of American States should be held to review the progress made in the field.

42. "It was recommended that the governments concerned make expert surveys of their existing programmes of economic and social development with a view to determining whether the measures already adopted or planned were sufficient, or would have to be modified or supplemented by additional steps in the light of the special features of the coca leaf question. It was also realized that the measures taken would often have to be different not only from country to country, but also from district to district in the same country, e.g., a substitute crop for the coca bush or a new industry which would be suitable in one district would sometimes not do in another district. The surveys should therefore be directed to the special needs of particular coca leaf producing or coca leaf chewing districts.

43. "After these surveys have been completed, national conferences in the countries principally concerned should be called for the purpose of adopting a co-ordinated national programme of action. These conferences should be composed of all national departments concerned. Representatives of interested international organizations, of foreign governments willing to assist, of the church and of private organizations capable of making a contribution, should also be permitted to participate in these conferences. In view of the limited means which may be available, the national conferences may decide to concentrate action on particular districts.

44. "The participants of the Group were very pleased about the excellent organizational and academic arrangements for the Seminar. They appreciated the high quality of the lectures given and documents presented by international and national officials and organizations. They were particularly impressed by the high scholarly standards of Professor Granier-Doyeux, who acted as scientific consultant of the Group.

"The officials participating in the Seminar were particularly grateful to His Excellency General Doctor Victor Solano Castro, Minister of Public Health, and to the Peruvian Government for the generous contribution which the host country made to the success of the meeting. They expressed their feelings of gratitude to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the excellent preparations made by him for the efficient func-tioning of the Conference, to the specialized agencies represented in the Seminar for their valuable contributions; and to Dr. Carlos Quirós Salinas, Director-General of the Peruvian Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance who, as President of the conference, contributed eminently to the success of the working of the Group."

** *

The closing meeting of the Consultative Group was held in the morning of 7 December 1962. Dr. Guillermo E. Vasco C. of Ecuador was requested by the participants to speak on their behalf. He expressed warm appreciation to the Government of Peru and to the United Nations for helping to organize the meeting, which he described as one more step towards the redemption of the American Indian.

The Chairman of the Consultative Group, Dr. Quirós, stated that it was impossible to postpone any longer the solution of a problem that should be dealt with at its source: the underdevelopment of the numerous aboriginal inhabitants of Peru, who could and should be incorporated into the national life, in which they were anxious to participate. Peru, by sponsoring the meeting, had wished to demonstrate its goodwill and its desire to seek a solution which, without injuring or upsetting the balance of its economy, would enable it to fulfil its international commitments. He also thanked participants for their tributes to the Government of Peru, and expressed the hope that joint action by the sister nations of America would overcome every obstacle to the progress which they all wished to make as speedily as possible.

To sum up, the meeting of the Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems made possible an extensive and detailed examination of the problem and a reiteration of the harm done by the coca leaf chewing habit and the difficulties preventing its complete eradication. The many associated problems require complex economic, social, administrative, agricultural, educational, sanitary and dietary measures for their solution (see the resolutions adopted, which are reproduced in the annex).

The diversity of the subjects, the liveliness of the discussions and the outstanding qualifications of the participants warrant the expectation that the measures recommended in the eight resolutions adopted by the Consultative Group (see below), which lay down the guiding principles for solving the problem, will be carried out by the governments concerned. These measures would undoubtedly improve the lot of the indigenous inhabitants of South America, who, if released from this harmful habit, could become an active force capable of contributing their energy to the transformation of agriculture and industry that is necessary to ensure the prosperity of the Latin-American peoples. Execution of these resolutions would also result in an effective control over coca production and end the illicit production of contraband cocaine, thereby benefiting humanity at large.

I do not want to finish the present work without wishing Dr. Adolf Lande, who was the efficient Director of the Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems, great success in his new task as Secretary of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body, a function in which he replaces my friend Louis Atzenwiller, to whom the time of retirement has come after so many years in the service of the international community. To the friend who goes we wish a prompt realisation of all the plans he had to postpone until then. Needless to say that we are quite ready to help our friend Dr. Lande as much as we can and we hope that our working relations will in future be as fruitful and pleasant as those we had with him up to now and as those we had with his predecessor.


Resolution A (submitted by participants from Bolivia and Colombia, and amended by participants from Peru)

The Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems,

(a) Having met at Lima, Peru, from 26 November to 7 December 1962 and having studied various aspects of the coca leaf problem;

(b) Recalling the conclusions contained in the report of the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf 1and the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council 2 and of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs 3 of the United Nations relating to the question of the coca leaf;

E/1666; Report of the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf.

Economic and Social Council resolutions 436 E (XIV) and 548 E (XVIII).

E/2606, paras. 107-111. Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, ninth session.

Consultative group on coca leaf problems 35

  1. Recalling in particular the opinion of the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction 4that coca leaf chewing constitutes a harmful habit detrimental to society; 5

  2. Noting with satisfaction that all the countries faced with the problem of coca leaf chewing have recognized its harmful character and the need for its suppression; 3

  3. Considering that effective control of coca leaf production and trade is not only essential for the purpose of ensuring the gradual reduction and eventual abolition of coca leaf consumption but is also in the positive interest of all States engaged in the campaign against the illicit traffic in cocaine;

  4. Considering also that the reduction and eventual eradication of the coca leaf chewing habit would lead to increased labour productivity, an important condition of economic development in the interest not only of the coca leaf chewers, but of the whole population of the countries concerned;

  5. Appreciating however that the abolition of coca leaf chewing requires the prior solution of many difficulties of an economic and social nature, and that not all the countries concerned would therefore be able to proceed to an immediate prohibition of coca leaf chewing, since such a measure may do more harm than good wherever suitable conditions for it do not exist;

  6. Holding that assistance from the United Nations and its specialized agencies, as well as from friendly foreign governments, would facilitate the difficult tasks of some of the countries facing the problem of coca leaf chewing;

  7. Noting with satisfaction the great efforts made by all countries in which coca leaf chewing is practised with the aim of abolishing this habit,


  1. that coca leaf chewing is a harmful habit and that its abolition should therefore continue to be one of the objectives of government policy in the countries concerned;

  2. that the prohibition of coca leaf chewing should not be required until suitable conditions for such a measure exist, i.e. until by appropriate measures of economic and social development, the living and educational levels of the coca leaf chewing population have been raised sufficiently to ensure that no social disturbance shall result from that prohibition;

  3. that the carrying out of these social and economic measures is a matter of urgency and must be incorporated into the appropriate development plans;

  4. that conditions being different in the various countries facing the problem of coca leaf chewing, neither the specific measures to be taken by them, nor the period required for abolition, need be the same in all the countries concerned, but that each government should lay down as soon as possible a target date for abolition;

  5. that the administrative conditions for placing coca leaf production and trade under effective control need to be created wherever they do not yet exist, by such measures as a census of all the quantitative factors of coca bush cultivation (area cultivated, number of coca bushes), by a cadastral survey of the coca bush growing districts, and by the development of the necessary control machinery;

  6. that after establishment of the administrative conditions for effective control and of the necessary control machinery, coca leaf production, where not prohibited, should be permitted only on licensed plots and to licensed growers, who should be required, as soon as such a measure can be introduced, to deliver their entire crop to a government agency having a monopoly of the wholesale and international trade in coca leaf;

Subsequently renamed Expert Committee on Addiction-producing Drugs.

WHO Technical Report Series: 1952, No. 57, page 10; 1954, No. 76, page 10 and 1955, No. 95, page 12.

  1. that all economic interests which may be affected by the gradual reduction or prohibition of coca leaf production or by the introduction of a government monopoly of the wholesale and international trade in coca leaf should be adequately compensated, e.g., by giving assistance to cultivators in shifting to substitute crops or to other substitute activities offering the same or better remuneration;

  2. that measures should be taken to ensure that the reduction of coca leaf production in the territory of those countries which are at present the greatest producers is not offset by the initiation of, or an increase in, production of coca leaf in other countries;

  3. that loss of public revenue from taxation of coca leaf may have to be offset by tax reforms which would provide other sources of government revenue.

2. INVITES the countries in which the problem of the coca leaf constitutes an important economic or social problem

  1. to undertake special studies of the necessary economic, social and administrative measures required for the solution of the problem with a view to establishing

  2. how far the measures executed or planned for general development purposes are sufficient to solve the specific coca leaf problem;

  3. how far these measures need to be modified or supplemented to take into account the coca leaf problem;

  4. to carry out these studies where desirable with multilateral or bilateral technical assistance; and

  5. to convene after the completion of these studies, a national conference of all interested government departments and other institutions and organizations capable of making a useful contribution, for the purpose of formulating a national programme for the gradual abolition of coca leaf chewing, the effective control of coca leaf production, and the gradual reduction of such production to the quantities needed for medical, scientific and other legitimate purposes (such as the extraction of a favouring agent).

3. RECOMMENDS the United Nations and the specialized agencies, as well as governments capable of rendering aid, to give due consideration to requests for the assistance mentioned in paragraph (2) above.

4. CALLS UPON the governments concerned to strengthen the repressive measures which they may have taken to suppress the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the clandestine manufacture of cocaine, and the illicit traffic in coca leaf and cocaine.

Resolution B (submitted by participants from Peru)

The Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems,

Considering that an epidemiological survey of the coca leaf chewing habit would facilitate the study of the problem as a whole by explaining the existing differences in the incidence of chewing in regions having similar economic, social, climatic and ethnic conditions and that it would also facilitate the application of more effective control measures,

Realizing, however, that, pending the carrying out of these studies it is necessary to continue to apply known measures aimed at the abolition of coca leaf chewing within the shortest possible time,

Recommends the governments especially concerned in this problem to carry out epidemiological surveys which will facilitate the study of the problem as a whole, and at the same time to apply measures aimed at the eradication of the chewing habit within the shortest possible time.

Resolution C (submitted by participants from Peru)

The Consultative Group,

With a view to facilitating, for those countries which are at present the main producers, the difficult task of reducing coca leaf production to the quantity necessary for medical, scientific and other legitimate purposes,


That governments should not permit the importation of coca leaf and raw cocaine, unless originally produced in Bolivia or Peru.

Resolution D (submitted by participants from Brazil and Peru)

The Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems


The governments of those countries where serious problems relating to the coca leaf exist, to establish national commissions consisting of representatives of all the public and private institutions concerned for the purpose of proposing, planning and co-ordinating the necessary government measures for the gradual abolition of coca leaf chewing and for improving the control of coca bush cultivation and its reduction to the quantities necessary for scientific and other legitimate purposes (extraction of flavouring substances).

Resolution E (submitted by participants from Colombia)

The Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems,

  1. Having met at Lima from 27 November to 7 December 1962;

  2. Recognizing the close connexion between the coca leaf chewing habit and the economic and social conditions of the indigenous populations;

  3. Recognizing the need to examine the problem of the improvement of economic and social conditions of the indigenous populations in a comprehensive manner and within the framework of national economic development plans;

  4. Taking into account the fact that the international character of the problem requires the adoption by the various countries concerned of co-ordinating measures within the framework of an international programme;

  1. Recognizes that the national plans and integration programmes for the indigenous populations organized by the Andean countries with the technical assistance of the United Nations (Andean-Indian Project) and of the specialized agencies constitute the most appropriate means of carrying out the action referred to above:

  2. Invites governments to proceed with these plans and programmes as energetically as possible and to include in them surveys, studies and measures conducive to the eradication of the coca leaf chewing habit among the indigenous population;

  3. Recommends the enactment, by those governments which have not yet done so, of legislation to prohibit and punish severely the payment of wages or other benefits in the form of coca leaf.

Resolution F (submitted by participants from Peru)

The Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems.


  1. that States having an indigenous population have a duty to promote at all times the improvement of the social and economic level of living of that population;

  2. that it is incumbent upon the competent government departments to develop and implement this principle;

  3. that it is necessary to carry out educational activities in connexion with the campaign against the coca leaf habit, in accordance with the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf and those arrived at by the Inter-American Consultative Group on Narcotic Drugs at Rio de Janeiro.

Recommends the Governments concerned:

  1. to promote and co-ordinate plans, programmes and activities of the Ministries dealing with the problems of the indigenous population, for the purpose of fostering native arts and developing industry and education, as one of the many means of improving the level of living of the indigenous inhabitants and of eradicating the coca leaf chewing habit;

  2. to formulate a comprehensive educational programme to combat coca addiction, making use of all processes and means of didactic dissemination, for the purpose of contributing as far as possible to improving the social and economic level of the indigenous population and thereby eradicating the coca leaf chewing habit.

Resolution G (suggested by the observers from the United States of America)

The Consultative Group

Recommends the governments of the American States to meet periodically for the purpose of reviewing and evaluating the progress made with regard to:

  1. the gradual reduction of coca leaf production to the quantities necessary for medical, scientific and other legitimate purposes;

  2. the gradual abolition of coca leaf chewing;

  3. the suppression of the illicit traffic in coca leaf and cocaine;

  4. The gradual introduction of substitute crops in the coca leaf producing areas.

Resolution H (submitted by participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador)

The Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems,

Noting with great satisfaction the excellent preparations made for the organization of its work from both the scientific and the technical and administrative points of view, expresses its gratitude:

  1. to the Government of Peru and in particular to His Excellency General Víctor Solano Castro, Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare, for Peru's hospitality to the Group and for the substantial contribution it has made to the Group's work;

  2. to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for so ably and efficiently preparing and convening this meeting under the technical assistance programme provided for by resolution 1395 (XIV) of the General Assembly of the United Nations and for drawing up a carefully prepared and well-balanced agenda, and also to the participating specialized agencies, whose representatives made able contributions to the discussions and submitted papers of outstanding interest;

  3. to the Chairman of the Consultative Group, Dr. Carlos Quirós Salinas, Director-General of Public Health of the Peruvian Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, for having presided over the meeting in such an able and distinguished manner, thereby making a significant contribution to its success, and to the two Vice-Chairmen of the Group, Dr. Walter Fortón, Director of Technical Education, Bolivian Ministry of Public Health, and Dr. Edgar Velasco Arboleda, Chief of the Administrative Section of the Colombian Ministry of Public Health;

  4. to the participants from Peru for their detailed and valuable contributions towards the solution of the problem;

  5. to Professor Marcel Granier-Doyeux for the outstanding ability with which he advised the Group on scientific questions during its labours.