The Biden administration is finalizing the necessary funding to give away crack pipes and other paraphernalia to drug addicts.
The Washington Free Beacon reports a $30 million grant for the Harm Reduction Program, which will begin in May, will provide funds to nonprofits and local governments to help make drug use safer for addicts.
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the funding of the program, which includes money for syringes and "smoking kits/supplies."
A spokesman for the department told the 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 risks for those who smoke 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."
The crack cocaine epidemic began in the U.S. in the early 1980s and had particularly devastating effects within the inner cities.
In the past, Democrat-run cities like San Francisco and Seattle experimented with giving away smoking kits and syringes to residents, while others banned them.
Maryland lawmakers dropped their distribution plan after facing strong criticism from local law enforcement and African-American leaders, according to the Free Beacon.
Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, told the outlet government resources are better spent 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 explained.
The funding for the program is provided through the Democrats' American Rescue Plan, which passed the U.S. Senate in March of 2021. It also includes money that can be used to purchase medical supplies, including vaccinations, disease screenings, and condoms.
The program includes 25 awards that will be given out over a three-year period. Each award will be worth up to $400,000 a year.
The HHS spokesman declined to specify what is included in the smoking kits, according to the Free Beacon. It is against federal law to distribute or sell drug paraphernalia unless authorized by the government, the outlet noted.
Justice Department May Allow 'Safe Injection Sites'
Meanwhile, a year after winning a major court battle against the opening of so-called safe injection sites — for people to use heroin and other narcotics, to protect against fatal overdoses — the Justice Department is signaling it might be open to allowing them.
In response to questions from The Associated Press, the Justice Department said it is "evaluating" such facilities and talking to regulators about "appropriate guardrails."
The first officially authorized safe injection sites opened in New York City in November. The two facilities — which the city calls "overdose prevention centers" — provide a monitored place for drug users to partake, with medical staff and supplies on hand to reverse overdoses.
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