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Topics: Washington, Cocaine

Tuesday, 15 June 2004

image for USDA: Cocaine a "Fresh Vegetable"

WASHINGTON - According to a federal judge, pure, unadulterated cocaine is now a vegetable. However, the Agriculture Department said Tuesday that this classification will not apply to nutrition, and that a line of nose candy is no substitute for a carrot in school lunches.

The ruling last week by federal District Judge Richard Schell in Beaumont, Texas, allows gutter glitter to be considered a fresh vegetable under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. The Cocoa Plant had been on the list since 1974.

"Regulations under the law help to assure buyers of toot that they are getting what they ordered," said George Chartier, a spokesman for the department's Agricultural Marketing Service. "Pure cocaine is fresh simply because it doesn't meet the standard necessary to be listed as processed, in which case it would be known as cat's piss, or crack," he said.

The department does not plan to repeat its experience in trying to classify heroin as a vegetable in school lunches, Chartier said. The heroin-as-vegetable proposal was introduced during the Reagan administration, but the department dropped the idea after it found itself not only opposed but also laughed at.

A spokesman for the Heroin Distributors Association of America expressed outrage. According to Tony Escobar, spokesman for the group, "the Poppy Plant, by itself, is just as innocuous as the Cocoa Plant, yet upstanding heroin dealers are treated as second class citizens. The double standard is unbelievable."

Attorney General John Ashcroft plans to appeal the lower court's decision, despite deafening silence from the President. "It's unfathomable to me that, when Congress passed this law in 1930 and used the term `fresh vegetable,' they would have ever conceived that large drug cartels could convince the USDA that yayo falls into that definition," said Ashcroft.

In the meantime, expect to see cocaine in your local grocery aisle in the near future.

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