Two organizations in Maine that are scheduled to receive funding from a Biden administration grant program for harm reduction kits for drug treatment are actively distributing crack pipes to addicts.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, "The Church of Safe Injection, which bills itself as a 'nonprofit that fights for the health, rights, and dignity of people who use drugs (PWUD),' will receive funding through a $1.2 million grant the Biden administration awarded to a coalition of Maine groups."
A Free Beacon reporter picked up a crack pipe and meth pipe last week at the organization’s Lewiston, Maine, office but did not provide a smoking kit, which typically includes other drug paraphernalia such as alcohol wipes, copper wool, and a mouthpiece.
A second organization set to receive a grant, Maine Access Points, provided one of the outlet’s reporters a bag of a dozen crack pipes along with foil and a smoking kit that contained a mouthpiece, copper scrubber, lip balm, and instructions on how to smoke crack cocaine.
The organization also gave out three meth pipes, a snorting kit, naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and a condom.
A Free Beacon reporter also texted to ask if the Sanford location, one of the organization’s five locations, distributed crack pipes, an employee said, "Yes.”
Unlike other groups that previously provided the Free Beacon with crack pipes within their smoking kits, the two Maine groups provided the outlet crack pipes separately from their smoking kits.
Zoe Brokos, a spokeswoman for the Church of Safe Injection, told the Free Beacon that the organization has not yet received the federal funds it was awarded. They added that they plan to use the funds to buy "wound care kit supplies such as alcohol pads, gauze pads, and bandages."
Brokos also told the outlet that the organization will continue to distribute crack pipes and meth pipes but will not use federal grants to fund them.
According to the outlet, the two organizations working in conjunction with the state's largest health system MaineHealth, and Amistad, a support group for addicts, are "using the taxpayer-funded grants to facilitate the distribution of drug paraphernalia in each of Maine's 16 counties, with a focus on LGBT and homeless drug users, according to HHS grant information. The grant is set to be renewed annually through 2023."
Even though the two groups help oversee the HHS grant award funds, the department left out the groups from the grant recipient announcement, listing only MaineHealth.
A local CBS affiliate reported that both groups were grant recipients, and the groups celebrated the announcement of the funding in separate Facebook posts.
The Church of Safe Injection posted on Facebook in May with a link to the HHS grant announcement, "So bittersweet to share the news that we received this grant in collaboration with Maine Access Points, Amistad, and MaineHealth."
"Bittersweet because so few harm reductionists were chosen throughout the country even though we know that the services provided by syringe service programs and naloxone distribution orgs save lives and make a HUGE difference."
The Church of Safe Injection also hosts a "trans harm reduction group" twice a month for "trans and non-gender conforming people who use drugs." Jesse Harvey, the founder of the group, died from an overdose in 2020. Kari Morissette, his successor as executive director, died in May.
An HHS spokesman told the Free Beacon that the federal funds have not yet been used by either organization. "As we have said, harm reduction grant dollars cannot be used to purchase pipes. Federal law prohibits the sale or offer of drug paraphernalia. The harm reduction grant dollars, while awarded, have not yet been withdrawn by the organizations in question."
On Monday, the California legislature passed a bill that would enable Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco to open heroin injection sites for drug users which is headed to Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom's desk for signature.
Facing backlash, Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at the time that "no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits."
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the time that crack pipes were "never a part of the kit" and that "we don't support federal funding, indirect or direct, for pipes."
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