The Biden administration on Wednesday pushed back on what it called “misinformation,” saying a federal grant program meant to reduce harm to drug users does not include taxpayer funding for pipes that can be used to smoke crack or meth.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put out a statement clarifying “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 later told reporters at a briefing that reports that crack pipes would be included in the safe smoking kits being distributed as part of the program were inaccurate.
“Even though this has never been a part of what’s been funded, we felt it was important to put out a public statement from the federal government to make that clear because we saw the spreading of misinformation and the fact that it was having an impact on a range of communities,” Psaki said. “And we felt, even though it was never true, that we needed to put out a proactive statement.”
Psaki said the safe smoking kits being distributed as part of a $30 million harm reduction program might include materials such as alcohol swabs, lip balm, clean syringes and other materials intended to promote hygiene and reduce the risk of spreading diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
“I would note that what we’re really talking about here is steps we’re taking as a federal government to really address the opioid epidemic, which is killing tens of thousands, if not more, Americans, every single day, week, month of the year,” she said.
The grant program through HHS funds safe smoking kits and supplies that could be purchased for communities trying to address the opioid epidemic in ways that might reduce the risk of spreading disease among users. The Associated Press reported that the grant solicitation did not specifically mention the inclusion of pipes for smoking, though such materials can be part of safe smoking kits.