Hyde-Smith co-sponsors CRACK ACT to halt distribution of smoking pipes

Published 5:54 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) cosponsored legislation to ensure the federal government will not engage in the distribution of crack pipes or similar drug paraphernalia either directly or indirectly, despite there being no evidence that the government will distribute pipes in their harm reduction program kits.

The Cutting Rampant Access to Crack Kits (CRACK) Act would amend Section 2706 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to prohibit any funds from directly or indirectly purchasing, supplying, or distributing crack pipes or similar drug paraphernalia.

The CRACK Act would specifically prohibit HHS from using federal substance use disorder funds to procure, supply, or distribute pipes, cylindrical objects, or other paraphernalia that can be used to smoke, inhale, or ingest narcotics.

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“The CRACK Act makes it crystal clear that taxpayer-funded crack pipes will not happen,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

“The Biden administration must really begin to rethink the many very bad policies coming out of the Department of Health and Human Services, this crack pipe and drug paraphernalia scheme being among the worst,” she said. “The government should not be in the business of enabling addiction to illegal and dangerous drugs.”

According to Hyde-Smith’s press release, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced the CRACK Act after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week appeared to confirm that part of the $30 million grant program would go toward “smoking kits/supplies,” which frequently includes crack pipes.

The Biden administration backtracked, prompting an outcry from activist group Drug Policy Alliance that argue “pipe distribution is healthcare.” Executive Director of the DPA Kassandra Frederique to say rolling back on this policy would be a “huge missed opportunity.

“We applaud the Biden administration for the steps they have taken to advance harm reduction and advocate for the funding needed to supply needed resources and save lives,” said Frederique, “but they must stand firm against misinformation and continue the course to deploy all evidence-based solutions, including all forms of safer smoking supplies, to save lives now.”

Frederique reports that access to safer smoking supplies, primarily distributed by harm reduction programs, is an evidence-based practice that helps people who inject drugs to switch to smoking, which is a less risky mode of consumption. Drug use via inhalation rather than injection reduces the risk of overdose, infection and blood-borne disease transmission, she said.

Despite public outcry against the policy and against the rolling back of the policy, the White House was never explicitly stated crack pipes were to be included in the harm reduction kits.

The purpose of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) program, authorized by the American Rescue Plan, is to help increase access to a range of community harm reduction services and support harm reduction service providers as they work to help prevent overdose deaths and reduce health risks often associated with drug use.

Through funding, organizations can expand their community-based overdose prevention programs by distributing overdose-reversal medications like Naxolone and fentanyl test strips, providing overdose education and counseling and managing or expanding syringe service programs which help control the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

As read in a statement issued on Feb. 9 by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta, the harm-reduction grants won’t be used to purchase pipes.

Accordingly, no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits,” it reads. “The goal of harm reduction is to save lives.”

The administration is said to be focused on a comprehensive strategy that will stop the spread of drugs, curb addiction and take decisive action against violent criminals who traffic illicit drugs like fentanyl across borders and into communities.

The city of Oxford was reported to be experiencing a rise in overdoses due to the increase in counterfeit narcotics in the community, according to an Oxford Police Department Statement release last November.

During the first week of November, ten reportedly died from overdoses and 16 individuals survived an overdose. Those overdose cases involved counterfeit 30 mg Percocet pills laced with other substances like fentanyl. The laced pills would have the same identical markings as the real pharmaceutical markings.

Narcan, also known as Naloxone, is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. It does not help reverse effects of alcohol or cocaine overdose. Health experts do not advise using Narcan as a substitute for emergency medical care for opioid overdose.

If any person has information about someone selling or possessing products to manufacture illegal narcotics, the OPD asks that they contact the department at 662-232-2400, Metro Narcotics at 662-236-3900 or the Lafayette County Crime Stoppers at 662-234-8477.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction, here is a list of the following resources that the community has access to: Communicare, 662-234-7521;MS CARE, 662-234-6553; Oxford Treatment Center, 662-291-7308; Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, 662-373-2830.