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The New Yorker Article Looks at Meaning of Coca in Andean Society


May 1995

Andrew Weil, MD, outlines the political, economic, and social aspects of coca use and agriculture in Andean countries in an article for The New Yorker magazine (Andrew Weil, "The New Politics of Coca," The New Yorker, May 15, 1995, p. 70-80).

Through interviews with growers and politicians and through personal use of coca, he describes how coca use in the Andes differs dramatically from the use of powder cocaine in the United States and European countries. The article also shows how prohibition drug policies in the United States greatly increase the value of the coca crop. Coca growing, which formerly was only for use as leaf, became the raw material for a very profitable illegal industry that changed the way indigenous people lived. At the heart of the fight about cocaine policy between the Andean nations and the United States is a conflicting view of the coca plant.