DOJ assesses opening safe injection sites for heroin and other illicit substance use

The Department of Justice plans to set up supervised sites in underserved communities where they will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal meth and other narcotics, in an effort to reduce the risks associated with substance abuse and prevent fatal overdoses.

Known as the “Harm Reduction Program Grant,” the $30 million grant grant program would provide funding for community-based overdose prevention programs, needle service programs and other “harm reduction services”.

Funding for these overdose and prevention activities will help stem the spread of infectious diseases associated with substance abuse and support the distribution of FDA-approved overdose reversal medications to those at risk of overdose, the program said.

The program will also provide those at risk of developing, or who already have substance abuse problems, health counseling and education, and “encourage such individuals to take action to reduce the negative personal and public health effects of substance use or abuse”.

The funding would also be used to purchase equipment and supplies to “strengthen harm reduction efforts”, which includes a harm reduction vending machine – an automated dispensing system stocked with supplies to reduce the risks associated with drug use – and “safe smoking kits/supplies”. .”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told the Free Washington Beacon that these kits will provide pipes for users to smoke crack, crystal meth and “any illicit substance”.

The kits are intended to reduce the risk of infection when you smoke substances with glass pipes, which can lead to infections through cuts and sores, HHS said.

Grant applications closed Monday and will begin in May with a focus on “underserved communities,” including African Americans and “LGBTQ+ people,” as established under President Joe Biden’s executive order on “the promoting racial equity,” the HHS said.

The program is authorized under the Public Health Services Act and the Biden U.S. Bailout Act of 2021.

A spokesperson for the agency confirmed The Associated Press. that they were considering setting up supervised consumption sites and had discussions with regulators.

“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, the Department is evaluating supervised consumption sites, including discussions with state and local regulators about appropriate safeguards for these sites, as part of a comprehensive approach harm reduction and public safety,” the agency said in a statement Friday to the AP.

The Epoch Times contacted a Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson for comment.

Critics of the program argue that government efforts should be more focused on stopping illegal drug use rather than securing it.

“Is this a cruel joke? Drug overdose deaths are at their highest levels on record. The Biden administration should be focused on stopping the traffickers instead of creating more demand for their product,” remarked Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark via Twitter.

A drug addict picks up a needle before injecting heroin in New London, Connecticut on March 23, 2016. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The program comes as the Biden administration strives to address the nation’s opioid crisis and substance use disorders through a “comprehensive public health approach.”

In March, Biden signed into law the US bailoutwhich has earmarked nearly $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to increase access to behavioral health services to address the crisis.

Biden also advocated for people with substance abuse issues to be offered treatment rather than incarcerated for drug use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose from May 2020 to April 2021.

Biden’s stance on so-called drug safety sites represents a stark departure from that of the Trump administration, who fought hard against the opening of such sites throughout Philadelphia.

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ultimately ruled that it was a federal crime to open such supervised injection sites or “consumption rooms” statewide and that “although the opioid crisis may necessitate innovative solutions, local innovations cannot violate federal law.”

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