The Biden administration is distributing $30 million in smoking kits and syringes to drug addicts over the next three years. According to the program, it’s part of a new “harm reduction” effort.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), says it is “unprecedented” and “the first-ever.”
According to the program (pdf), grant funds “must be used primarily to support the following required harm reduction activities,” including purchasing equipment and supplies such as “safe smoking kits/supplies” and bongs, plus “syringes to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases.”
The program will also distribute “safe sex kits.”
It was part of executive order 13985 (pdf), one of the first signed by President Joe Biden, and defined underserved communities as those denied “equity,” or the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including black, Latino, other persons of color; LGBTQ+ persons; and persons adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality. It wasn’t clear if white drug addicts would also benefit from the assistance.
The program was announced last December by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who said at the time that “harm reduction services are critical to keeping people who use drugs alive and as healthy as possible.”
“Americans deserve health services that address the full range of drug use and addiction issues, and this funding will help provide those services in the neighborhoods in which they live,” Becerra added, noting that for the first time, overdose deaths in the United States exceeded 100,000 over a 12-month period.
Distributing smoking kits among addicted people has been controversial, with even supporters saying pipe sharing increases the risk of transmitting diseases between people who smoke drugs. Opponents say they could enable drug use. There’s no evidence that handing out more pipes would prevent them from being shared under drug-induced circumstances.
Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, told The Washington Free Beacon that the government should focus on preventing drug abuse rather than making it safer.
“If we look at more of a preventive campaign as opposed to an enabling campaign, I think it will offer an opportunity to have safer communities with fewer people who are dependable on these substances,” Boatwright said.
–Metro Voice and wire services