Biden Admin places vending machines full of drugs in rural Kentucky

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$3.6 million project will distribute syringes to nation’s overdose ‘epicenter’

PPE vending machine at a NY Transit stop

Patrick Hauf • September 7, 2022 05:00

The Biden administration is expected to spend $3.6 million to deploy drug-filled vending machines in rural Kentucky — an effort the Biden administration says will reduce the stigma of drug users.

The National Institutes of Health project was launched in August and will study the effectiveness of “harm reduction kiosks” in rural Appalachia that contain “injection equipment, naloxone, fentanyl test strips, hygiene kits, condoms and other supplies”. Vending machines allow addicts to obtain items such as syringes without interacting with a medical professional, hoping to eliminate the “stigma” that comes with visiting a harm reduction center in person, according to the health agency.

The White House referenced the project in an Aug. 31 press release about its steps taken “to combat addiction and the overdose epidemic.” The administration has adopted a wide range of harm reduction policies, which aim to make illicit drug use safer rather than eliminate it.

The Free Washington Beacon in February reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was set to fund the distribution of crack pipes through a $30 million harm reduction grant program. The administration backed off funding plans amid public backlash, and the New York Times reported that the outcry over crack pipe funding plans “derailed” Biden’s drug policy agenda. The White House, however, still seems willing to adopt controversial harm reduction policies – the New York Times reported in July that Biden’s drug czar, Dr. Rahul Gupta, favored legalized injection sites, which allow users to take drugs under the supervision of medical professionals.

The new study, which is being led by the University of Kentucky, appears to be the first effort by the federal government to deploy harm reduction vending machines. Harm reduction vending machines have been popularized in Canada, Australia and other countries. A few US states, including New York, Rhode Island, Ohio and Nevada, have deployed the machines in recent years. Machines sometimes include smoking kits, which in many cases include crack pipes.

The University of Kentucky declined to comment, ordering the Free tagthe NIH survey. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which leads the project at NIH, told the Free tag that in addition to drug paraphernalia, the vending machines will include “food kits, water, socks and gloves, feminine hygiene products, wound care, and resources/guides.” The agency did not respond to questions regarding the status of the kiosk program.

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