I kind of see all these plants as things that through these cultural evolutions where people scapegoat them and ban them. Like when some in this country thought that apples were the fruit of the devil and got people drunk back when people were fermenting apples. Then, decades later, we’ve got the expression, "As American as apple pie." So I saw coffee and coca as these two plants that grew on the same mountainside, were picked by the same people for thousands of years, and are both really benign stimulants. Both have been transformed into global commodities, but coffee is totally legal and accepted culturally around the world, and coca is this super-illicit, super-illegal, Drug War-starting plant.
He downplays the dangers of coca:
Coca, in Bolivia and Peru and throughout the Andes, is technically illegal according to the UN, but if you’re there it’s not illegal at all. Everyone chews it, you can get it at the markets. I mean, coca has been chewed for almost 10,000 years, so it’s crazy that in the last couple decades we think we’re going to ban it. If the plant were going to be legalized, I don’t really think it would be a recreational drug in the United States. I mean, you basically need it kind of fresh, and it’s nothing that blows your mind. It’s not an experience you can’t get from a cup of coffee. The legalization of coca is something Bolivia is trying to do now. They’ve gone to the UN, and now they’re going again.