The free pipes are to prevent the homeless from cutting their lips
June 2, 2023 - According to Fox News, a report shows that Los Angeles County is handing out free pipes that can be used to smoke crack cocaine, methamphetamine and other opioids. Included in the kit with the pipes are also clean needs and "supplies" to avoid or reverse a drug overdose.
Between 2020 and 2021, there were 1,500 homeless individuals who died of drug overdoses. More than half of them tested positive for having fentanyl in their systems.
In recent years, the county has grown their budget for "harm reduction" from $5.4 million to $31.5 million, a roughly six-fold increase. Harm reduction is the philosophy that it is more expedient to reduce the dangers consequent with drug use rather than trying to curb the drug use itself. In a meeting with LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, the Santa Monica Coalition, a local business and resident group, learned that no medical doctors accompany the workers who hand out free drug kits to addicts in local parks. Neither are the recipients of the free needles - and also apparently crack pipes - referred to any drug rehabilitation services.
Manuel Campito, a recovered addict and who currently operates a cleanup organization on Skid Row was quoted by Fox as saying, "You know Dr. Kevorkian assisted suicide? That's pretty much what it is."
The distribution of clean needles is supposed to prevent the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C through sharing of needles but Ferrer could not say her office was conducting any survey of effectiveness in reducing such disease in the homeless community.
Handing out clean pipes is supposed to prevent users from cutting their lips on broken or reused glass. Allegedly, supplying pipes may also encourage those who are currently injecting drugs to switch to smoking, which is supposed to be safer.
A portion of the money LA County spends on harm reduction comes from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The $398,960 from the Biden administration is authorized to be spent on "smoking kits," but somehow this is not supposed to include kits with pipes.
A worker with the harm reduction group LA Community Health Project, Sandra Mims, called the pipes "crowd pleasers," according to the LA Times.