A drug addiction outreach program in Vancouver, BC has installed crack pipe vending machines to help stop the spread of HIV. Much like clean needle programs, this stops the spread of disease, and should be welcomed.
The machines were set up by an outreach group in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood considered Canada’s “poorest postal code,” CTV News reported, and dispense Pyrex glass pipes for 25 cents.
The initiative is aimed at reducing the spread of injury and disease among drug users by providing them with safe and durable pipes. Using chipped or broken pipes and sharing them with people who have mouth sores can spread HIV and hepatitis C, among other conditions.
Kailen See of Portland Hotel Society’s Drug Use Resource Center, says this clears the way for users to seek treatment. “You have to have treatment, you have to have detox, you have to have safe spaces to use your drugs of choice, and you have to have safe and clean supplies.” And contrary to what conservatives claim, this has been shown to be true with crack pipes, as with needle exchange programs.
There is evidence to refute the claim that distributing drug paraphernalia leads to increased drug use. A study released last year by the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS found overall drug use in Vancouver declined in the years since groups began distributing free pipes.
U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Miami have also seen positive results from programs like needle exchanges, including a dramatic drop in new HIV cases.
And with the drop in HIV and hepatitis C cases, there is less taxpayer money going to treat users who tend to be poor and unable to afford health care. This should make conservatives happy.