The Bolivian government has approved a Bill of Complaint filed by President Evo Morales’ to withdraw Bolivia from the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs over its prohibition of the personal use, consumption, possession or cultivation of the native coca leaf. The withdrawal will come into effect in 2012, and although the complaint over the coca leaf ban will technically withdraw it from Convention compliance, Bolivia has stated it intends to continue complying with the drug trafficking and narcotics control sections of the Convention.
The Bolivian government has publicly stated its support for developing a legal global market for coca products, including coca-based tea, soft drinks and pharmaceuticals, which it argues would reduce demand for cocaine.
This action comes in the wake of growing support for protecting the cultural heritage of coca use amongst the Bolivian people, a popular movement which arguably lead to the election of President Evo Morales on the basis of his actions defending coca-growers against US-lead eradication programmes.
In 2009, Bolivia began a process to amend Article 49 of the Convention, which prohibited consumption of the coca leaf from 2001. Its proposal for amendment was formally opposed by 17 other Convention signatories, including the United States, U.K., France, Japan, and Russia.
The Chinese government has been supportive of Bolivia's actions, comparing a ban on chewing coca in Bolivia to a ban on drinking tea in China.
See also: 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. Happy Birthday?