No, the Biden Administration Is Not Giving Out Crack Pipes.
Despite what the headlines report, the Biden administration is not giving out $30 million to distribute “crack pipes to drug addicts.”
On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a $30 million grant to fund harm reduction programs around the country. Harm reduction, in this case, refers to providing services to drug users to try and encourage safer consumption and help challenge the stigma against drug usage.
In the latest report which announced the grant, it shows that the funding will be spread out over three years, with about $10 million in funding each year.
The report mentions specifically many programs it wishes to enact, including:
- Infectious diseases testing kits (HIV, HBV, HCV, etc.);
- FDA-approved overdose reversal medication (as well as higher dosages now approved by FDA);
- Safe sex kits, including PrEP resources and condoms;
- Substance test kits, including test strips for fentanyl and other synthetic drugs;
- And syringes to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases;
But the most important part of this list, at least to the articles that published the dramatic headline? Buried deep near the bottom, they add:
- Safe smoking kits/supplies;
Now, it is unclear looking at the report how much money will be allocated to the individual aspects, but what is clear is that this grant is far from only providing “crack pipes to addicts to advance ‘racial equity,’” as the Washington Free Beacon, who originally reported this story, made it seem.
Now I am used to seeing dramatized headlines, sprinkling light misinformation as they spark discussions on twitter or in the comment sections of instagram posts. But, this article, and the following ones to be written by Fox, Daily Mail, and other perpetrators, especially angered me due to how damaging this is.
Harm reduction has proven to be an effective tactic when it comes to curbing drug abuse.
By breaking down the stigma against drug usage, users are more encouraged to seek help, rather than feel ignored by local and state governments. By providing users with safe ways to consume, the transmission of dangerous blood-borne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis are curbed. Not to mention all of the financial support for FDA approved overdose-reversal medications like Narcan, which has been extremely useful in saving thousands of lives out on the streets.
This misinformation perpetuates and further deepens the stigma against drug use. The important, life-saving measures that the HHS is working to enact are being overshadowed by inaccurate, all-around bad takes.
As Psychology Today reports, “In New York, longitudinal studies examining the effects of the legalized syringe exchange program from 1990 to 2002 found HIV rates had decreased from fifty percent down to 17 percent.”
Later on in the article, they go on to talk about Portugal, and how by changing their entire outlook on drug use and employing harm reduction programs as well as decriminalizing drug usage saw overdose fatalities drop by more than 80% and the rates of drug-related arrests drop by 60%.
The fact of the matter is, harm reduction works. These programs, work.
So, to conclude, no, the Biden administration did not create a $30 million grant to give “crack pipes to drug addicts.” The Department of Health and Human Services created a $30 million grant to provide immeasurable support, safe and clean supplies, and testing kits to help those who do suffer with addiction, a route to safely consume. We as a society should want to see addicts get help.
And that has to start with changing the conversation.