Thursday, February 10, 2022

"Crack Pipes"


 



There is indeed stiff competition and it is intended to score a cheap political point. But it doesn't seem to be made out of whole cloth.

The rumor began when the right-wing Washington Free Beacon maintained

The Biden administration is set to fund the distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts as part of its plan to advance "racial equity."

The $30 million grant program, which closed applications Monday and will begin in May, will provide funds to nonprofits and local governments to help make drug use safer for addicts. Included in the grant, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, are funds for "smoking kits/supplies." A spokesman for the agency told the Washington Free Beacon that these kits will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and "any illicit substance."

HHS said the kits aim to reduce the risk of infection when smoking substances with glass pipes, which can lead to infections through cuts and sores. Applicants for the grants are prioritized if they treat a majority of "underserved communities," including African Americans and "LGBTQ+ persons," as established under President Joe Biden's executive order on "advancing racial equity."

If a report ends with "President Biden's son Hunter is a longtime user of crack cocaine," which is probably both inaccurate and irrelevant, it should be taken with a grain of salt- or at least subject to strict scrutiny.

As specified here, one of the five indicators grant recipients must report on a quarterly basis are twelve "harm reduction materials purchased with grant funds." Among these is "safe smoking kits/supplies," to which some drug treatment professionals are partial.  An Indian publication notes

Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit that advocates for drug law reform, likened the strategy to approaches people are more familiar with, like using condoms for sexual health and wellness.

“What research has consistently shown us is that when we give people access to safer smoking equipment, it’s resulted in increased health risk awareness for people that are using drugs,” Frederique told HuffPost.

“People are using drugs. It’s really important for us to give people information and educate folks about ways they can moderate their drug use or reduce the risk that can happen with some kinds of drug use,” she explained.

Nonetheless

“No federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits,” ​​Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and White House drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta said in a statement, adding that they plan to prioritize the use of life-saving medications like Narcan, fentanyl test strips and syringes.

“Federal funding will not be used to put pipes in the kits or distribute them,” a senior administration official also told HuffPost. “Today, [HHS] clarified that no federal funding can be used for some specific elements that may be included in those kits. The contents of kits often vary by state based upon federal and state law.”

It was a mistake, both politically and programmatically, to encourage "safe smoking kits/supplies" in the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Harmful Reduction Program Grant.   However, the federal government, though providing no direct funding, now is encouraging local jurisdictions to establish or continue programs which provide glass (considered safer than copper, plastic or aluminum) pipes for individuals to smoke methamphetamine or crack cocaine.

This is not relatively benign marijuana. This is the real deal, and not in a good way. The surrender to a drug culture of crack, opioids, and prescription drugs is off and running. This may not sincerely concern most Republicans. Yet, as the tweet from Senator Rubio indicates, they will find a way of tying drug use around the necks of Democrats unaware of how their sympathy toward drug users will be perceived by voters and disingenuously exploited by Republicans.

 


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