The Drug Users Resource Center, a Canadian non-profit that helps people with addiction, has placed a vending machine outside of their building in Vancouver that sells Pyrex crack pipes for $.25.
Crack pipes have been given out in the city for some time as a measure to help stop the spread of disease, however the system they used had been one pipe per person per day, which this vending machine would most certainly change since users could buy as many as they wanted.
Rather than have a stoic, stigmatized machine they have decorated theirs with bright polka dots and made it welcoming. Kailin See, the center’s director, said that “This is a very important thing for the community and we thought we wanted to make it look really snazzy.” A tactic that has seemed to work since the machine sells out just about every week, she said.
This is a piece of a larger program they’re running called ‘harm reduction’ which incorporates assistance to addicts through every stage of their addiction. “This is one piece of the larger puzzle,” she said, then added “You have to have treatment, you have to have detox, you have to have safe spaces to use your drugs of choice and you have to have safe and clean supplies.”
The purpose to distributing the pipes is so to prevent users from spreading diseases through sharing them. “For us, this was about increasing access to safer inahalation supplies in the Downtown Eastside,” See said. “They don’t run the risk of then sharing pipes, or pipes that are chipped or broken.”
“Everything from flu, colds, cold sores, HIV: If you cut your lip on a pipe that someone else has been using, there are risks there.”
Generally speaking the community has been receptive to the program, explained Mariner Janes who runs a needle exchange program. “Through and through, the people that are using the machine and need the pipes are kind of in dire need of the supplies, and really it’s a health care kind of item,” he said. He then explained why the pipes can be expensive on the streets, saying they’re hard to come by and others don’t like to give them up.
“People say to me, “Ah, only in Vancouver,” Janes said. “I’d like to think that this is not the only place that this could happen. I’d like to see this idea go all over the place.”
(Read More: Free Crack Pipes To Be Given Out In San Fransisco)