The United Nations declared coca leaves an illegal substance in 1961, but Pope Francis told the government of Bolvia to break out the leaves when he arrives for a visit later this month – he plans to chew them. Coca leaves, which are the raw ingredient of cocaine, are legal in Bolivia for religious and medicinal purposes. It has mild stimulant qualities.
Bolivian Culture Minister Marko Machicao says visiting dignitaries are usually offered coca tea, but when he contacted the Vatican to discuss the tradition, the pontiff had "specifically requested" to chew coca leaves.
"We will be awaiting the Holy Father with the sacred coca leaf," Mr Machicao said.