A drug recovery group in El Paso, Texas, that received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Biden administration’s “harm reduction” program distributes crack pipes to drug addicts.
The El Paso Alliance has received nearly $800,000 from the HHS since 2022 as part of the federal government’s harm reduction program. The group, which distributes “smoke kits” and other “harm reduction resources” to drug addicts, told The Dallas Express that the kits include a “small, cylinder glass.”
According to its website, the El Paso Alliance is a nonprofit organization that aims to “inform and provide individuals with the harm reduction tools and resources necessary to minimize self harm, enhance recovery, and improve quality of life.” The “harm reduction resources” the group offers include healthcare, child care, disease testing, and the distribution of smoke kits, hygiene kits, fentanyl test strips, Narcan and condoms.
The HHS’ harm reduction program included “smoking kits” as equipment eligible to be purchased with its federal money. But in early 2022, top HHS officials and then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied reports that the kits would have crack pipes.
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A spokesperson for the HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which oversees the harm reduction program, told Fox News Digital that the agency communicates with grant recipients to ensure the federal funds are not used on pipes.
“SAMHSA sent the following Terms and Conditions language to all Harm Reduction Grant recipients upon grant award: “Award funds shall not be used, directly or indirectly, to purchase or promote the use of drug paraphernalia, including pipes/pipettes in safer smoking kits,” spokesperson Brandon Costerison said. “Grant recipients were also reminded that grant recipient organizations must comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the use of SAMHSA funds.”
“All grant recipients submit an annual budget that includes line items for all supplies intended to be purchased with SAMHSA funds,” Costerison continued. “In some cases, grant recipients may receive funding from non-federal sources that do not have the same restrictions as federal funding. SAMHSA does not oversee the use of these funds. However, SAMHSA grantees must operate within the bounds of federal, state, and local laws.”
The El Paso Alliance did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on whether it uses federal grant money to purchase its smoking kits and what else the funds are used to purchase.
The distribution of crack pipes may violate state law because, according to Texas’ Health and Safety Code 481.002(17), the distribution and possession of drug paraphernalia is banned in the Lone Star State.
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“A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally uses or possesses with intent to use drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance in violation of this chapter or to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter,” the law states.
The El Paso Police Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on whether the El Paso Alliance violated the law or if there is an exception for the drug recovery group.
Harm reduction groups attempt to reduce overdoses by distributing naloxone and clean drug paraphernalia to drug addicts. Harm reduction groups sometimes distribute safe smoking kits, which can include a pipe, stem, mouthpiece, aluminum foil and wipes intended to prevent cuts and infections, the Washington Free Beacon reported in 2022.
Other groups have also received federal grants that were used to distribute crack pipes, including two groups in Maine, one in New York City and the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.
Two other groups in Texas were among the recipients of the HHS harm reduction program.
People with Ideas of Love, Liberty, Acceptance, and Respect received nearly $800,000 in grants since last year to “develop a naloxone distribution program” that includes a “harm reduction vending machine at their primary location.”
The group did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital about what other supplies would be offered.
Bexar County Hospital District, which does business as the University Health System, also received nearly $800,000 since last year as part of the harm reduction program.
“We do not distribute any drug paraphernalia. We have delivered about 1,700 doses of naloxone,” University Health System spokesperson Elizabeth Allen told Fox News Digital.
Other groups across the country to receive grants as part of the harm reduction program include Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, Harlem United Community Aids Center, the Kansas City Care Clinic and the Detroit Recovery Project.
Source: Fox News