(The Center Square) – Reports of a new Biden administration grant program has drawn widespread criticism for its efforts to reduce the spread of disease by providing crack pipes at taxpayer expense.
The application window for the $30 million “harm reduction” program grant closed Monday. The three-year grant program was funded through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill pushed through by Democrats in March of last year. It specifically outlines syringes and “safe smoking kits/supplies” as an approved use of federal funds.
“The purpose of the program is to support community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services programs, and other harm reduction services,” the grant said. “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 (SUD)…”
A spokesman from the Department of Health and Human Services told the Washington Free Beacon, which first reported the story, that the kits in question will include smoking “any illicit substance” such as crystal methamphetamine or crack cocaine.
Some cities have experimented with distributing smoking kits, but federal distribution of the illicit smoking devices are a new, and controversial, step.
The program is designed to prevent the spread of certain diseases when users share crack pipes, especially when those pipes are cracked are broken.
“Smoking crack can lead to open sores, burns or cuts on the lips, which can transfer blood to a crack pipe,” said the North Carolina Hard Reduction Coalition. “If the pipe is shared, even a speck of infected blood can transmit hepatitis C. People who smoke crack, like everyone else, like to have sex. When you smoke crack it often decreases your inhibitions, and deceases condom negotiation skills, which can increase exposure to HIV, STIs and Hepatitis.”
The grant also says its work aligns with “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
Republicans pushed back hard on the program, calling it a misuse of taxpayer funds.
“Biden is sending free meth and crack pipes to minority communities in the name of ‘racial equity,’” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said. “There is no end in sight for this lunacy.”
Other critics argued it flew in the face of Biden’s recent pledge to be more strict on the rise of crime nationwide.
“Last week, Biden talked about being tough on crime,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. “This week, the Biden Admin announced funds for crack pipe distribution to ‘advance racial equity.’”
The grant also allows federal funds to be use to purchase “safe sex kits, including PrEP resources and condoms.”
The plan was mocked online.
“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,” U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., wrote on Twitter.