The Biden Administration may be in violation of Texas state law for distributing drug paraphernalia via its "harm reduction" program that was created under the White House's national drug control strategy in April 2022.
The Dallas Express reports that the El Paso Alliance has taken in almost $800,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) program to distribute "Smoke Kits" that include a "small, cylinder glass"— a possible reference to a crack pipe.
The report notes that under the Texas Health and Safety Code 481.002(17), "A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally uses or possesses with intent to use drug paraphernalia … to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter."
In February 2022, as outlets reported that the administration was going to be funding crack pipes, officials ensured that the program would not be used for paraphernalia. Several news outlets came to the aid of the White House, labeling the allegations as false in "fact-check" articles.
An official with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), who has oversite of the program told The Express, "SAMHSA sends Terms and Conditions language to all harm reduction grant recipients: ‘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."
"Grant recipients are also reminded that any organization using SAMHSA dollars must comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations," the official added. "All grant recipients submit an annual budget that includes line items for all supplies intended to be purchased with SAMHSA funds."
"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 statement concluded.
Since the initiative was announced it has been revealed that non-profits in other states do include pipes as part of their kits. In one of the fact-checking articles by USA Today, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition told the outlet their kids sometimes include glass pipe stems and mouthpieces.
The Church of Safe Injections and Maine Access Points, two non-profits in Maine, were also reported to be actively distributing crack pipes to addicts. Though Zoe Brokos, a spokesperson for The Church of Safe Injection, claimed that they would not use government funds to distribute pipes, they would still provide them.
The Express noted that the El Paso Alliance did not answer a request for comment regarding whether it would use grant money for the smoke kits, nor did El Paso police when asked if they were granting the organization an exception to the law for distributing the kits.
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