Update: The 2022 Harm Reduction Program Grant includes 20 requirements, of which safe smoking kits/supplies is one. After the grant received widespread attention, the Biden HHS put out a statement assuring that “no federal funding will be used… to put pipes in safe smoking kits.” Distributing crack pipes is not, according to the grant application, a means of advancing racial equity. Rather, the grant’s application states it favors applicants in underserved communities, thus encouraging advancement of racial equity while reducing harm among the drug users. This story and headline have been updated to reflect these facts.
The Biden administration is spending $30 million on grants targeting “underserved communities” to help substance abusers via overdose prevention programs, safe smoking kits/supplies, safe sex kits, test kits for fentanyl and other synthetic drugs, and more.
The American Rescue Plan, which passed the Senate with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, provides the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding to carry out the multimillion-dollar grant program.
The grant program references Biden’s executive order 13985 titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” that he signed on his first day in office.
The program accepted applications from nonprofit organizations and local governments until Monday, with funds scheduled to be distributed in May. The federal government will give approved entities funds to make drug use safer and to advance “racial equality.” Applicants who treat drug users in “underserved communities” are prioritized to receive funding. “Underserved communities” refers to black, Latino, LGBTQ, and other minority groups who have been “adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”
According to the grant document:
The purpose of the program is to support community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services programs, and other harm reduction services. Funding will be used to enhance overdose and other types of prevention activities to help control the spread of infectious diseases and the consequences of such diseases for individuals with, or at risk of developing substance use disorders.
The grant document encourages funds to be spent on “safe smoking kits/supplies,” among other things. An HHS spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, or “any illicit substance” are included in these kits, a claim the Biden administration now denies.
“Syringes,” “safe sex kits,” and “harm reduction vending machine(s)” are also on the list of materials entities should purchase with grant funds.
The winners of the grant awards “have not been announced” yet, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website.
Federal law prohibits the sale or distribution of drug paraphernalia unless authorized by the government. Democrat strongholds like San Francisco and Seattle have implemented their own crack pipe distribution plans. However, other municipalities have stayed away from the idea. For example, Louisville, Kentucky, briefly allowed stores to sell drug kits before ultimately banning the sale of them.
Certain elements of the Harm Reduction Plan sent social media users into a frenzy.
“So the Biden Administration thinks it’s a great idea to give out crackpipes but definitely not Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine. Let that sink in,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr.
So the Biden Administration thinks it’s a great idea to give out crackpipes but definitely not Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine. Let that sink in!
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 8, 2022
“Nothing says “Democrat Priorities” like raising the price of insulin on Day 1 but making crack pipes free,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted.
I never in my life thought I would have to say this, but the proper role of government is not to fund the distribution of crack pipes.
Did Hunter come up with this bullcrap?
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) February 8, 2022
“Last week, Biden talked about being tough on crime,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). “This week, the Biden Admin announced funds for crack pipe distribution to ‘advance racial equity.’”
Last week, Biden talked about being tough on crime.
This week, the Biden Admin announced funds for crack pipe distribution to "advance racial equity." pic.twitter.com/cnSazcL8bA
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) February 7, 2022
Some specifically objected to the “safe smoking kits/supplies” being distributed to the black community.
“Instead of giving Foundational Black Americans constructive tangibles, Biden and the democrats are giving out crack pipes as a form of ‘racial equality,’” Tariq Nasheed wrote.
Instead of giving Foundational Black Americans constructive tangibles, Biden and the democrats are giving out crack pipes as a form of “racial equality”
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) February 8, 2022
“President Trump offered Black America the Platinum Plan and the First Step Act. Joe Biden is offering them crack pipes,” Lavern Spicer tweeted.
President Trump offered Black America the Platinum Plan and the First Step Act.
Joe Biden is offering them crack pipes.🏾♀️🏾♀️
— Lavern Spicer (@lavern_spicer) February 8, 2022
News of Biden’s plan comes just days after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed it is looking into setting up “supervised consumption sites,” where drug users can use substances under an official’s supervision.
The DOJ told the Associated Press on Friday:
Although we cannot comment on pending litigation, the Department is evaluating supervised consumption sites, including discussions with state and local regulators about appropriate guardrails for such sites, as part of an overall approach to harm reduction and public safety.
Although an HHS spokesperson called the Washington Free Beacon’s report “blatant misinformation” on Tuesday, they did not dispute the existence of the “harm reduction” grant program.
The spokesperson said:
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.
“Like all programs that use federal funding, these grants must adhere to relevant federal, state, and local laws or regulations,” the spokesperson concluded.