New York City is finally unveiling its vending machines packed full of affordable drug paraphernalia.
Located on the corner of Decatur Street and Broadway in Brooklyn, residents in the Big Apple can now access safe-sex kits, naloxone — or Narcan, which is used to treat opioid drug overdoses — and a range of drug paraphernalia meant to make consuming drugs "more safe."
And it's all free. That's right, the big blue dispensers, which the city calls "public health vending machines," are funded New York City taxpayers to the tune of $11,000 per machine, the New York Post reported.
The machines are being placed in the city's most drug-ridden neighborhoods. Among the drug paraphernalia now freely available are "Safer Smoking" kits, which include a smoking pipe and mouthpiece — good for crack cocaine and crystal meth — and lip balm. Users can also get drug-test strips that detect fentanyl and "Safer Sniffing" kits.
Feminine hygiene products and first-aid kits can also be accessed. Users simply have to enter their zip code to get the items.
According to the New York Post, the first vending machine does not have syringes. But future vending machines could include them to make intravenous drug use "safer."
In a statement, City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said:
We are in the midst of an overdose crisis in our city, which is taking a fellow New Yorker from us every three hours and is a major cause of falling life expectancy in NYC. But we will continue to fight to keep our neighbors and loved ones alive with care, compassion and action. Public health vending machines are an innovative way to meet people where they are and to put life-saving tools like naloxone in their hands. We’ll leave no stone unturned until we reverse the trends in opioid-related deaths in our city.
Right now, there are plans for only four vending machines. But Vasan said he hopes the city can get funding for more.
"We’re very optimistic that this could expand beyond four,” he said, the Gothamist reported.
"This is not a be-all, end-all in our fight; this is one more arrow in a quiver, and we need lots of arrows in that quiver to respond to this ever-growing crisis," he added. "So I'd love to see this expand as far and as widely as possible, so that it's available everywhere."
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