Part Three: “Less Publicity of Articles About Coca Leaves and Narcotic Drugs Will Be Better For The Public”
Among other things, my book A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola is about the Coca-Cola beverage and the coca leaf of South America. Chewed for thousands of years, coca is also the plant source of cocaine and has been banned around the globe since 1961. …
Part Two: A Double Standard for the Single Convention Treaty
In March 2009, Bolivian president Evo Morales stood before the United Nations, a coca leaf in hand, citing a history of use of the plant for purposes social, spiritual, medicinal, and nutritional. The event marked the beginning of a formal request to correct the “historical error” of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — the agreement that orders people to stop chewing the leaves and mandates the destruction of all wild coca bushes. …
Part One: How the Coca gets into Coke
In 1886, a pharmacist named Dr. John Pemberton mixed extract of the green coca leaf — containing the recently discovered marvel of cocaine — with the caffeine kick of West African kola nuts, making a “Brain Workers’ Panacea” tonic called Coca-Cola.
Touted to relieve mental and physical exhaustion, “Coke” arrived alongside a wave of cocaine products advertised to ease toothaches and labor pains. Cocaine was said to cure fatigue, nervousness, impotence, even addiction to morphine.
But the medical miracle soon changed into the story of a crime epidemic. Cocaine’s addictive properties were…
On Rikers Island it is not fruitful to be angry. I’ve seen anger and frustration revealed in fits and bursts, but more often I marveled at how people accept being locked in a cage for the most precious months and years of their lives. When someone has a family and a future, right now is the most potent moment. And right now, there are almost ten thousand people maintaining extraordinary calm, incarcerated on a small island just a stone’s throw from LaGuardia Airport.
In 1930, Harry J. Anslinger became the first commissioner of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Anslinger would lead the government’s fight against illegal drugs through the administrations of seven presidents.
Anslinger fought most famously against marijuana, however he also led the ban against the coca plant and its cocaine, while simultaneously helping secure The Coca-Cola Company’s special access to its leaves. I’ve written about this in my book, and in my essay, The Cocainemaker, Reefer Madness, and the Vice-President of The Coca-Cola Company.
On the morning of March 7th, 2002, Abdul Matí Klarwein passed away in his sleep, from his home in Deia, on the island of Mallorca, Spain.
“I painted psychedelically before I took psychedelics…”
Matí became a mentor in my head as soon as I first saw his work. He painted impossibly, beyond what I’d ever imagined one could do in an image—blending styles of the Flemish masters, spectacular Islamic patterns, Indian tantric arts, cartoons, Hebrew, and talismans, to start. He changed his name to Abdul Matí because he said Jews should take an Arab name, and vice versa. …