WASHINGTON (AP) – Following outrage from the political right, the Biden administration said Wednesday that a grant program to help prevent further harm to people who use illicit drugs will not pay for safer pipes for smoking crack or methamphetamine.
“No federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement to recipients to put pipes in safe smoking kits,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and the adviser in White House drug policy Rahul Gupta in a statement.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki separately said that was never the intention, complaining that the impression was created by “inaccurate reporting”.
Monday was the deadline for service organizations and state and local governments to apply for a share of $30 million in federal funds for “harm reduction” efforts aimed at preventing illness, injury and other collateral trauma. people addicted to illicit drugs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s initial request for proposals for funding lists “safe smoking kits/supplies” among the items that can be purchased with taxpayer dollars. They were among a dozen categories including overdose prevention drugs, drug safes, infectious disease test kits and syringe disposal containers. The grant application did not specifically mention pipes, although they could be part of safe smoking kits.
It sparked reports online that the Biden administration was using federal dollars to pay for “crack pipes.” Some Republican senators lambasted the administration on Twitter.
HHS spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim tweeted that such reports were “blatant misinformation” and at the White House briefing on Wednesday, Psaki said paying for the pipes was never part of the plan.
“They were never part of the kit,” Psaki said. “It was inaccurate reporting and we wanted to release information to make that clear.”
Homemade pipes for smoking crack and meth can break easily or give off toxic fumes. For this reason, safer pipes can be one of the components of safety kits. But these kits may also include other supplies, such as alcohol swabs for cleaning hands or wiping a pipe.