Hujos de Coca
June 7, 2005 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Hola peeps. I am trekking through Peru and want to take a very small amount of Coca leaves back to the states with me for tea, etc. I can't find any info on whether this is legal or not. Your thoughts? Gracias in advance!
posted by moonbird to Law & Government (15 answers total)
 
Actually, I had a few more minutes online and answered my own question. And damn, it's illegal to bring any form of coca into the US, unless you're Coca-Cola, in which case you can import as much as you like. Sorry for this wasted space, wasn't expecting to stay online as the connection here is really shoddy.
posted by moonbird at 11:41 AM on June 7, 2005


Well, just in case you happen to check this thread out again before you decide to come back, I'll share the following. Three years ago, while in Bolivia I bought a box of coca tea, not the actual tea leaves from the market but processed tea packs like you'd buy in the store. I had no problems getting through customs, even told the agents about it when I arrived in LA. Coca leaves on the other hand might get you in trouble, and three years have gone by, but I was cool.

They were selling the boxes of tea in the airport anyway, which helped assure me that it'd be ok. Futher, my father had brought some back the year prior, and once or twice since then too. No problems anywhere.
posted by pwb503 at 11:48 AM on June 7, 2005


Sorry for this wasted space

I don't think it's wasted space.

Believe it or not, I was wondering this very thing last night. I'm reading the latter Aubrey/Maturin novels. At this point Stephen Maturin has given up his alcoholic tincture of laudunum in favor of the calming effects found via the leaves of the coca plant. So harmless! (Just like the cigars he smokes.) It had me wondering the same thing.
posted by jdroth at 11:55 AM on June 7, 2005



I'd say no since it was a Bolivian Diplomat who gave me a bag as a “gift.” He remarked the leaves were ok for him and the like to possess, since it is part of his country’s culture. Also no, because it can be found in the DFW International Airport exhibit of items seized by customs.

I don’t know the penalties here. As a small quantity of Cuban cigars will be seized by customs with no added penalty, but this being a drug may have a penalty that would need a lawyer’s assistance.
Have you had this tea before?
I'll add, he and his family looked down on the US's common use, snorting, of it though. He also thought it was odd that a majority of Americans think cocaine is widely used in his country, then he made the tea...
posted by thomcatspike at 12:00 PM on June 7, 2005


calming effects found via the leaves of the coca plant.

With me, a small cup of coffee in the evening can have the same effect, fyi.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:07 PM on June 7, 2005


A friend of mine brought back a couple of boxes of tea bags that said "Coca Mate" on them. I read about them and apparently they're "de-cocanized" to remove most of the cocaine in them.

Well, there must still have been plenty of cocaine in that tea because I drank it and it gave me a whole lot of energy and changed my awareness a little. Different than black tea, different than coffee, and different than Yerba Mate (which I have been drinking regularly since I was little).

Unless you don't bring back the contents of twenty boxes of coca mate all wrapped up in plastic bags and duct tape in your backpack, I think you'll be fine.

Of course, it's not the pure leaves, but I thought I'd contribute anyway.
posted by redteam at 12:21 PM on June 7, 2005


I don't think any leaves are allowed, never mind coca leaves. Have a nice flower from a romance that ended when you boarded that plane leaving Paris? Better be ready to part with it in 6-8 hours.

As much as I once though this was a draconian policy, the recent reading I've done on landscaping, food production and gardening has changed my mind.
posted by Dick Paris at 2:07 PM on June 7, 2005


Have a nice flower from a romance that ended when you boarded that plane leaving Paris? Better be ready to part with it in 6-8 hours.
posted by Dick Paris


Oh, come on -- you're just bitter. That romance wouldn't have lasted anyway.
posted by languagehat at 3:04 PM on June 7, 2005


Coca leaf tea is the only known cure for altitude sickness,or so I'm told.
posted by hortense at 7:27 PM on June 7, 2005


I read about them and apparently they're "de-cocanized" to remove most of the cocaine in them.

Coca leaves don't have cocaine in them any more than cacao seeds contain chocolate.

coca != cocaine
posted by signal at 9:46 PM on June 7, 2005


twenty boxes of coca mate all wrapped up in plastic bags

Do you know how many kilos of leaves are neccesary to make 1 mg of cocaine?

20 boxes would make like a single crystal.
posted by signal at 9:47 PM on June 7, 2005


Hi Everyone. Checking in from Puno, Peru, on the banks of Titicaca. Coca does definitely help stave off altitude sickness, and plus the tea is quite calming. I'm thinking about ditching the leaves I've bought or giving them as a gift here, and maybe bringing back one package of tea. Thanks everyone for your advice. Coca is consumed down here as much as coffee if not more... what's more, it has lots of calcium and thus there are a lot of healthy teeth. I've enjoyed chewing it and drinking it, and since it would take a massive quantity of the stuff to make something illicit, I'm fairly miffed about gov't policy on this one. Certainly, hearing the news about the Supremes this week was disheartening. Anyway, ciao and thanks!
posted by moonbird at 7:33 AM on June 8, 2005


Puno, huh. Run away!!! Seriously, I hate that town. Envy the general area though. WHich way are you heading? If into Bolivia, stay in Copacabana and try to spend a night on Isla del Sol. If into Peru, plan on at least a week in and around Cuzco.
Drop me a line if you make it as far south as Santiago, Chile.
posted by signal at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2005


Coca leaves don't have cocaine in them any more than cacao seeds contain chocolate.
Maybe you’re thinking of the African coca plant, as the two are different.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:54 PM on June 8, 2005


Just for the sake of posterity: good answer on the tea bags, got them in with no problem. I ate my few remaining leaves before leaving Peru in the morning... it just wasn't worth the risk. Thanks everyone.
posted by moonbird at 12:33 AM on June 12, 2005


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