Posted by: Emily Hardaker19 FEB 2014
Recently an non-governmental organisation in Vancouver, Canada has started selling packaged crack pipes from a vending machine in their building. This scheme developed by the Portland Hotel Society is designed to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis in users through the use of damaged and chipped crack pipes. The Portland Hotel Society was created in 1993 to promote and provide services which help those people who are for example homeless, suffering from mental illness or addiction or any combination of all of the above. The reasoning behind the vending machine scheme is similar to that of the needle exchange programme for heroin users. For crack users over time the pipes they use tend to chip and wear down due to overheating and overuse. This puts the individuals at a higher risk of injuring their mouths as they inhale, and if they are sharing pipes thus more likely to transmit disease and infection from the open wounds to other users. And at the measly cost of $0.25 (roughly 13p) this appears to be a brilliant idea to promote safe and clean drug use, as while you can’t force someone to stop using you can at least encourage to use safely. Although this seems a brilliant solution to reducing the spread of serious diseases such as HIV, Canada’s conservative Federal Safety Minister Steven Blaney disagrees. He stated that his government does not support the scheme and he believes that it is promoting the use of drug paraphernalia amongst young people. Which to be fair it is, but he seems to have missed the key point in that it is promoting the use of safe and clean drug paraphernalia whilst simultaneously stereotyping all crack users as belonging to one generation of the population. There is no word as yet of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s stance on the scheme but I hazard a guess as it being in the positive.