The federal government wants to help users of illicit drugs to not necessarily stop using them, but wants to help make sure users are doing so in a safer manner.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) has $30 million for a "Harm Reduction Program Grant" which includes money for syringe exchange programs, the drug naloxone to combat opioid overdoses, fentanyl test kits and "safe smoking kits/supplies" among other more traditional measures such as HIV testing kits and safe sex resources.
The harm reduction efforts are not necessarily a new idea, but they have not been paid for using federal taxpayer money before.
The hope is that the "safe smoking kits" will reduce the risk of infections from smoking illicit drugs.
“Too many Americans, more than 100,000 people over the last year, have lost their lives to drug overdose. Our new HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy is clear – harm reduction services are critical to keeping people who use drugs alive and as healthy as possible,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Americans deserve health services that address the full range of drug use and addiction issues, and this funding will help provide those services in the neighborhoods in which they live.”
Seattle and San Francisco have previously run programs to distribute clean smoking pipes, but they say it is difficult to determine if there was any benefit.