EDITOR’S NOTE: The article has been updated to provide additional context and updated responses from the White House.
WASHINGTON (WTVO) — The Biden Administration said Wednesday that crack pipes are not included in a “safe smoking kit” available to non-profits to reduce infections among drug addicts.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that it will supply smoking kits for users to smoke illicit substances such as crystal methamphetamine and crack cocaine.
To limit infections among drug users, the Biden administration created a $30 million grant program through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for non-profits to buy “equipment and supplies to enhance harm reduction efforts,” examples of which list infectious disease testing kits, condoms, syringes and “safe smoking kit/supplies.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) expressed “grave concerns” over the program in a letter Tuesday to SAMHSA Secretary Xavier Becerra, saying, “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. If this is the president’s plan to address drug abuse, our nation is in serious trouble.”
In response, Becerra and White House drug policy adviser Rahul Gupta said in a statement, “No federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the impression that the government was funding the distribution of crack pipes was due to “inaccurate reporting.”
The program is part of a harm-reduction initiative to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in underserved communities impacted by substance abuse disorders, as outlined in Biden’s executive order, issued January 20th, 2021, which instructed: “the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”
The deadline for organizations to apply for the grant was Monday, February 7th.
An HHS spokesperson later told FOX News “The Harm Reduction Grant offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and authorized by the American Rescue Plan is a grant program designed to help Americans who are struggling with substance use stay healthy and safe, prevent overdose death, and find pathways into evidence-based treatments.”
Selling or distributing drug paraphernalia is against federal law, unless authorized by the government. Funding for the program comes from Democrat’s American Rescue Plan.