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Bolivians now have the UN's blessing to enjoy their coca leaf

Juan Karita / AP

Coca leaf producers toss coca leaves being given away for free during an event commemorating the tradition of coca leaf chewing in La Paz, Bolivia, on Jan. 14. Coca growers held street demonstrations in La Paz and Cochabamba to celebrate that their centuries-old Andean practice of chewing or otherwise ingesting coca leaves, a mild stimulant in its natural form, will now be universally recognized as legal within Bolivia.

Gaston Brito / Reuters

A man chews coca leaves in La Paz, on Jan. 14, as indigenous people from Quecha and Aymara celebrate Bolivia's re-admittance to the U.N. anti-narcotics convention.

Jorge Bernal / AFP - Getty Images

A man looks at a bottle of an energy drink made with coca leaves during a celebration in La Paz on Jan. 14.

Juan Karita / AP

Bolivia's President Evo Morales holds up a few coca leaves during an event celebrating the tradition of coca leaf chewing in La Paz, Bolivia, on Jan 14.

Bolivia said on Friday it had been re-admitted to the U.N. anti-narcotics convention after persuading member states to recognize the right of its indigenous people to chew raw coca leaf, which is used in making cocaine.

President Evo Morales had faced opposition from Washington in his campaign against the classification of coca as an illicit drug.

"The coca leaf has accompanied indigenous peoples for 6,000 years," said Dionisio Nunez, Bolivia's deputy minister of coca and integrated development. "Coca leaf was never used to hurt people. It was used as medicine."

Read the full story.

--Reuters

Jorge Bernal / AFP - Getty Images

Women stand next to a pie made with coca flour during a celebration in La Paz on Jan. 14.

AFP - Getty Images

Bolivian President Evo Morales delivers a speech during a celebration for Bolivia's re-admittance to the U.N. anti-narcotics convention in Cochabamba on Jan. 14.

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