POPE MULLS THE COCA LEAF BUZZ
The Vatican has said Pope Francis would decide for himself whether to chew coca leaves to ward off altitude sickness when he lands at the world’s highest airport in La Paz, Bolivia, in a week.
A Bolivian minister said the pope had told government officials he would like to chew coca leaves – the major ingredient of cocaine – when he visits.
Locals have for centuries chewed coca leaves to ward off the effects of altitude.
“There are popular customs that people use. Some drink coca tea and others chew leaves. Let’s see what he decides,” the Vatican said.
The coca-leaf debate prompted one Hispanic reporter to interject out loud: “Hey, it is not a hallucinogen.”
The unprocessed leaf is legal to use and still widely chewed in Bolivia and other Andean countries.