• Bolivia

    Overview of drug laws and legislative trends in Bolivia.


    Not much has been done to open the discussion toward a more humane legislative framework for drug control.

    The current law prohibits drug use and punishes possession for personal use with internment and forced treatment. Domestically, a legal market for coca leaf has always existed and Bolivia is trying to change the international legal regime for the coca leaf.

    In March 2009, President Evo Morales requested the deletion of articles in the UN 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs prohibiting the chewing of the coca leaf. This marks an important first step that will be followed by initiating the WHO procedure to withdraw the coca leaf from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.

    While other reforms have been announced in regard to the Bolivian drug law, changes remain to be seen.


    Law 1008 of 19 July 1988 on the regime applicable to coca and controlled substances:

    Article 35. Prohibition of possession or storage: “No natural or juridical person may have or possess in any form or quantity, or in any place, drugs that contain or consist of controlled substances, without prior authorization from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Public Health, in consultation with the National Council Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic.”

    Article 37. Traffic and consumption: “The traffic, portioning and consumption of controlled substances listed in the schedules of the annex to the present Law are prohibited.”

    Article 48. Traffic: “Any person who engages in traffic in controlled substances shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of ten to twenty-five years plus a fine at ten thousand to twenty thousand times the daily rate.”

    Article 49. Consumption and possession for consumption: “Drug-dependent persons or non-habitual consumers apprehended in the possession of controlled substances in minimal quantities that are presumed to be intended for their own immediate personal consumption shall be detained in a public or private institution for drug-dependence to receive treatment until such time as certainty regarding their rehabilitation has been established.

    The minimum quantity for immediate personal consumption shall be determined through a ruling by two experts from a public institution for drug-dependence. If the quantity held is greater than the minimum quantity, it shall fall under the provisions of article 48 of this Law."

    For the latest news on drug law reform in Bolivia click here.

  • Building on Progress

    Bolivia Consolidates Achievements in Reducing Coca and Looks to Reform Decades-old Drug Law
    Coletta A. Youngers & Kathryn Ledebur
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) / Andean Information Network (AIN)
    August 2015

    Bolivia has seen a decline in coca cultivation for the fourth consecutive year, according to data released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). An analysis of this data by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Andean Information Network (AIN) reveals that the country’s coca policy – which relies on “cooperative coca reduction” rather than forced eradication – is responsible for the drop. Coca cultivation in 2014 is estimated to be 20,400 hectares, the lowest level in over a decade.

    Download the report (PDF - outside link)

  • Habeas Coca

    Bolivia’s Community Coca Control
    Linda C. Farthing & Kathryn Ledebur
    Global Drug Policy Program (Open Society Foundation)
    July 2015

    With significant pressure and earmarked funding from the United States and other demand-side countries, the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru have struggled for decades with the question of how to limit the growth of coca and the export of cocaine and comply with UN drug conventions. Tactics such as forced eradication, criminalization, and marginalization of coca farmers have not only failed to significantly reduce cocaine production, but have had disastrous consequences for the economies and communities in the region.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF - outside links)

  • Drugs and prisons in Bolivia

    Bolivia has announced its intention to reform its drug law (Law 1008), which has been criticized for resulting in sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes committed. But nothing has happened.

  • Drug Laws and Prisons in Bolivia

    Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America

    Bolivia’s participation in the international drug-trafficking circuit was determined by a series of factors, ranging from the ancestral tradition of growing and consuming coca leaf, to the endemic poverty of the population (per capita GDP is less than US$ 1,000) and the structural weakness of state institutions.

    Download the chapter on Bolivia (PDF)