Uproar Over ‘Crack Pipes’ Threatens Biden Drug Strategy

Undeterred, Ms. Shalala encouraged philanthropists to fund needle exchange programs, and instructed National Institutes of Health experts to provide training on needle exchange. Mr. Clinton later said he regretted his decision.

When Mr. Biden was elected, addiction experts were delighted. The American Rescue Plan, the coronavirus relief package he signed last year, earmarked $30 million for a new Harm Reduction Grant program to “support community-based overdose prevention programs, sprayer service programs and other harm reduction services.”

It was the first time Congress had created a specific grant for harm reduction programs – which often run on a shoestring budget – and the grant program had been exempt from a long-standing ban, which is renewed annually in spending measures, on the using tax dollars to buy clean needles. Some experts thought the ban would be lifted for good.

“We’re finally getting to a place where that ban would be lifted. We’d see sustainability, we’d see a massive shift in our current state of infectious disease,” said Chad Sabora, vice president of government and public relations at the Indiana Center for Recovery, a treatment center. He called the new controversy “heartbreaking.”

Safe smoking kits are often distributed by syringe service programs, and often include glass stems, which serve as pipes, as well as lip balm, alcohol wipes, rubber tips, and other items to protect against mouth sores and cuts that can spread disease. The guidelines for the new federal grant program are not specific about whether the kits can contain tubes.

The law is dark; a 1986 law classifies crack pipes (but not needles) as drug paraphernalia and makes it illegal to sell or ship them. Ms. LaBelle said the law, and similar state laws, could arguably prevent the government from funding the glass stems that serve as pipes.

After the uproar over the Free Beacon article, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said glass pipes “were never part of the kit,” insisting the story wasn’t true.

This post Uproar Over ‘Crack Pipes’ Threatens Biden Drug Strategy

was original published at “https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/us/politics/biden-harm-reduction-crack-pipes.html”