Pope Will Nosh on a Controversial Plant
He plans to chew coca leaves while in Bolivia
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2015 12:15 PM CDT
Pope Francis plans to sample a local favorite in Bolivia.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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(Newser) – Another entry for the pope-is-a-regular-guy files: Francis wants to sample coca leaves when he arrives in Bolivia next week, reports Reuters. "He has specifically requested that he wants to chew coca, so we will be awaiting the Holy Father with the sacred coca leaf," says the culture minister. The plant is a mild stimulant, and locals chew it for a host of reasons, including altitude sickness—the capital, La Paz, is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. It's also, of course, the main ingredient in cocaine and thus is illegal in most other parts of the world, notes the AP. "The pope will do what he thinks is right," says a Vatican spokesman.