Explaining the claim about the Biden administration and 'crack pipes'

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative media have accused the Biden administration of planning to distribute pipes for smoki...

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative media have accused the Biden administration of planning to distribute pipes for smoking crack cocaine.

Their demands this week refer to a provision of an overdose prevention program announced in december. The program provides funding for “safe smoking kits,” but makes no specific mention of glass pipes. In response to the outcry, Biden administration officials denied offering funding for such tips.

Here is an overview of the facts.

The program, funded by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last winter, will provide approximately $30 million in grants for harm reduction programs, which aim to reduce the personal and public health effects of drug use. There is no specific mention of crack pipes in the grant application documents.

Under the guidelinesgrant recipients are required to create harm reduction action plans, distribute overdose medications, help stop the spread of infectious diseases, and “purchase equipment and supplies to strengthen efforts harm reduction”.

Safe Smoking Kits are only listed as one of the allowed purchases. The grants also provide funds for disease and drug testing kits, wound care supplies, condoms, syringes and vaccines. In one fact sheet About the program, the Department of Health and Human Services said it does not expect grant recipients to purchase all of the supplies listed.

the grant guidelines do not specify what smoking kits should include. According to International harm reduction, a London-based non-governmental organization, these kits can contain rubber mouthpieces, brass shields, lip balm, disinfectant wipes and glass rods – the “crack pipes” in question. Contents may vary depending on the organization distributing the kit as well as state and local laws regarding the distribution of drug paraphernalia.

Additionally, smoking kits are not specific to crack and can also be given to meth and opioid users.

Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, and Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a joint statement Wednesday that their agencies were “focused on using our resources intelligently to reduce damage and save lives.”

They added that “no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement to recipients to put pipes into safe smoking kits.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, was more adamant. She told reporters that the pipes “were never part of the kitand dismissed the suggestion that they would be included as inaccurate reports. She was most likely referring to an article published Monday by Washington’s Free Beacon, a conservative media outlet; quoting an unnamed Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson, the article said the kits would provide pipes.

The department did not respond when asked by The New York Times whether glass pipes were ever allowed under the grant provisions.

Advocates say the kits are an effective health and safety awareness and education tool, and many have expressed disappointment that the administration is not funding the glass pipes.

“Going backwards on providing essential evidence-based resources that could greatly improve the health of people who use drugs while smoking is a huge missed opportunity,” Kassandra Frédérique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a press release.

HIPS, a harm reduction organization in Washington that applied for a grant under the administration’s program, distributed smoking kits in the 1990s and 2000s. Replacing broken and unsafe glass pipes resulted in effect of reducing equipment sharing and communicable diseases, said the group’s executive director, Cyndee Clay.

“Being able to offer people clean and safe equipment to use is a first step in helping to change their behavior,” she said, adding that when HIPS stopped distributing the kits, “our commitment decreased. because we didn’t have the right material to start this conversation.

Ms Clay said of the grant scheme: ‘It is unfortunate that there is all this controversy over what is essentially a very small part of what this initiative will be able to accomplish.

Jim Duffy, the founder of Smoke Works, a harm reduction organization and distributor of pipes in Boston, described the kits as an early intervention tool that could stop people from injecting drugs and connect them to other other resources.

“It replaces something more risky,” Mr Duffy said, adding that “it opens up entirely new communities for HIV testing, referral and health services.”

Mr Duffy, whose organization did not apply for the grant, said he was disappointed that the Biden administration had been “baited into a conversation that does not need validation”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Explaining the claim about the Biden administration and 'crack pipes'
Explaining the claim about the Biden administration and 'crack pipes'
Newsrust - US Top News
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