A new report from The Washington Free Beacon has alleged that at least some of the safe smoking kits that the Biden administration's $30 million safe smoking program may bolster do, in fact, include free crack pipes.
What's a brief history here?
In February remarks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted that such kits — provided to drug users for a safer experience — did not include free smoking paraphernalia, and said that pipes "were never a part of the kit" and that contrary reports were "inaccurate."
"A safe smoking kit may contain alcohol swabs, lip balm, [and] other materials to promote hygiene and reduce the transmission of diseases ... like HIV and hepatitis," she said at the time.
What are the details?
In a Thursday morning report, the Free Beacon noted that crack pipes are available in safe smoking kits all up and down the East Coast in cities such as Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and more.
The outlet's Patrick Hauf obtained the kits through visits to "harm reduction organizations."
"While the contents of safe-smoking kits vary from one organization to another — and while those from some organizations may not contain crack pipes — all of the organizations we visited made crack pipes as well as paraphernalia for the use of heroin, cocaine, and crystal methamphetamine readily available without requiring or offering rehabilitation services, suggesting that pipes are included in many if not most of the kits distributed across the country," Hauf wrote.
Hauf also pointed out that all of the centers that the Free Beacon's reporters visited "are run by health-focused nonprofits and government agencies," which Hauf said are the groups eligible to receive funding from the Biden administration's grant program.
"None of the organizations responded to inquiries about whether they applied for government grants," he added. "It is not clear which organizations will receive those grants, nor has the administration said how it will ensure the kits will not contain crack pipes. The Department of Health and Human Services, which will oversee the Biden grant program, declined to provide a list of groups that have applied for funding, citing 'confidentiality.'"
The administration, however, is poised to announce the recipients on May 15.
A deeper look
In Baltimore, a non-profit organization that provides harm reduction services apparently provides crack pipes, and an employee told the outlet that identification is not required to receive a kit.
The kits, Hauf reported, contain a variety of items including "glass crack pipes as well as Chore Boy copper mesh, a cleaning product used to hold the crack rock at the end of the pipe."
"Most importantly, the organization provides all drug paraphernalia recipients an 'Authorized Harm Reduction Program Participant Card' that serves as a get-out-of-jail-free card to show to law enforcement, because the paraphernalia is otherwise illegal in the state of Maryland," Hauf added.
Hauf's report added that the organization receives both local and state funding, and has reportedly received at least $200,000 from billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundations. The group, Hauf reported, "received $200,000 in government grants in 2019."
In Boston, the story was much the same.
"One pipe per person, once a day," an employee reportedly told the outlet.
In New York City's Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, an employee offered up a "long menu of drug paraphernalia" that is available to users free of charge.
"Included on the menu was a 'booty bump' kit for rectal ingestion of narcotics, which is recommended by many harm reduction centers as a safer way to use meth," Hauf explained and added that the Alliance for Positive Change, which oversees the harm reduction center, received at least $20 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since 2004.
A harm reduction center in Washington, D.C., also reportedly hands out a variety of pipes and mouthpieces without even asking for identification.
The center, known as HIPS — or Honoring Individual Power and Strength — is said to have received $3.1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which Hauf points out oversees the Biden administration's harm reduction program.
You can see photos of some of the kits below.