In an effort to curb the spread of disease among drug users, Vancouver has become home to Canada's very first crackpipe vending machines.
Installed on the city's Downtown Eastside, the machines offer Pyrex crackpipes for only 25 cents.
'For us this was about increasing access to safer inhalation supplies in Downtown Eastside,' said Kailin See, the director of the DURC.
See told CTV Vancouver the pipes are durable and less likely to cut a user's mouth, meaning the communicable diseases like HIV and hepatatis C will have a harder time spreading.
Two of the machines are operated by Portland Hotel Society's Drug Users Resource Centre.
The vending machines are part of a larger effort to curb harm in drug users overseen by InSite, the only medically supervised safe injection site in North America.
InsSite is no stranger to controversy since opening a decade ago. Up to 800 people use the site's services every day.
Federal officials attempted to shut them down in 2008, but the Supreme Court of Canada found the facility was exempt under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney said he disagrees with InSite's mission only supporting treatments that end drug use entirely and 'limiting access to drug paraphernalia.'
'Drug use damages the health of individuals and the safety of our communities,' he said. 'We believe law enforcement should enforce the law.'
InSite argues that studies have shown harm reduction strategies lead to overall decreases in the infectious disease rates and make addicts more likely to get treatment by introducing them to health professionals.
'This is one piece of a larger puzzle,' See said. 'You have to have treatment, you have to have detox, you have to have safe spaces to use your drug of choice, and you have to have safe and clean supplies.'
See argued that as every new HIV or hepatitis case could cost taxpayers up to $250,000 in medical treatment a mere 25 cents for a new pipe was a bargain.
Feburary 9, 2014
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