A program administered through the Health and Human Services Agency that will fund syringe exchange programs, the opioid reversal drug naloxone and “safe smoking kits and supplies,” has drawn criticism from lawmakers. They question the use of federal money to pay for drug use supplies.
“Government-funded drug paraphernalia is a slap in the face to the communities and first responders fighting against drugs flowing into our country from a wide-open southern border,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wrote in her letter. “If this is the president’s plan to address drug abuse, our nation is in serious trouble.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during the White House press briefing Wednesday the Biden administration does not support federal funding, directly or indirectly, for crack pipes in HHS ‘safe smoking’ kits. Psaki said the Health and Human Services Agency never intended to require that crack pipes be included in safe smoking kits.
“HHS and ONDCP are focused on using our resources smartly to reduce harm and save lives,” HHS said in a statement published Wednesday. “Accordingly, no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits. The goal of harm reduction is to save lives. The Administration is focused on a comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of drugs and curb addiction, including prioritizing the use of proven harm reduction strategies like providing naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and clean syringes, as well as taking decisive actions to go after violent criminals who are trafficking illicit drugs like fentanyl across our borders and into our communities. We will continue working to address the addiction and overdose epidemic and ensure that our resources are used in the smartest and most efficient manner.”
The entire 75-page harm reduction program grant is accessible here.