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Beer made from the same plant as cocaine launches

A coca-infused beer, the plant from which cocaine is derived, has been launched by El Viejo Roble in La Paz, Bolivia.

The South American business, which until now has only made spirits from coca leaves — the main ingredient of cocaine —was provoked by a recent decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assess coca’s non-narcotic benefits.

Lizzette Torrez, leader of one of Bolivia’s main coca-grower unions explained how the decision from the WHO had given hope to Bolivian farmers and told local reporters that she wished the products would reach the rest of the world.

Describing the growers’ ambitions, Torrez said: “Exporting is a desire that my people and I have had since I was a child.”

Bolivia, which is understood the world’s third-biggest producer of the coca leaf, and of cocaine, has reportedly been witness to the leaves inspiring spiritual rituals among its Indigenous communities for many generations.

According to the business owners within the Bolivian market, variants of new coca-related products, including El Viejo Roble’s new beer have hit the scene of late, powered on by the change to legislation.

Speaking about the new beer, El Viejo Roble manager Adrián Álvarez said: “Beer can be bitter, but with the sweet touch that we give it with coca makes it is more palatable.”

The beer is currently being bottled by workers at the El Viejo Roble site and will soon join the rest of the business’s coca-infused vodka and rum products which are already sold in batches to both the government and tourists but are yet to make it across the region’s borders.

At present, the reach of Álvarez’s alcoholic products, along with other coca-infused items will, according to reports, remain limited to artisanal fairs in Bolivia and Peru where the leaf is legal on the proviso that it is not used to make cocaine.

For the rest of the world, a United Nations convention still currently classifies the coca leaf as a narcotic and therefore still imposes a blanket prohibition on the plant since it is regarded as a drug.

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