Free Crack Pipes For Black Addicts? Help! I Have No Idea What To Make Of This Story

The current state of our journalism makes it difficult for me to deal with this story. There are other factors as well.

The headline I read two days ago was from the Washington Free Beacon, a fairly reliable conservative news source. I still didn’t believe it:

Biden Admin To Fund Crack Pipe Distribution To Advance ‘Racial Equity’

Yet the same day, this headline, which I verified, also appeared: “Heroin withdrawal made woman hallucinate SpongeBob telling her to stab her 3-year-old daughter to death, police say.” We are in the eras of Poe’s Law and The Great Stupid. There was a time not so long ago when the idea of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States was as plausible as us putting Dennis Rodman. in the White House A politician who suggested de-funding the police would be laughed out of public service. Encouraging illegal aliens to cross our borders would be seen as a symptom of a psychotic episode. Advocating teraing down statues of Thomas Jefferson would guarantee pariah status. Allowing non-citizens to vote, as New York City will do now, was incomprehensible. Imagine the reaction just ten years ago if a male college swimmer tried to compete as a woman because he decided that he “identified” as one.

Heck, maybe the Biden administration is distributing crack pipes.

But when the report first surfaced two days ago, I couldn’t find any mainstream media source that mentioned it. Of course, that’s the problem, isn’t it? We don’t have any trustworthy sources of information. The mainstream media often doesn’t report news it thinks will harm its cause (journalism isn’t supposed to have a cause other than informing the public, but that quaint concept has been largely abandoned, though not by me), and the conservative media, which plays a crucial role by reporting stories the MSM tries to hide, deny, or bury, seemingly can’t help itself from spinning what the left won’t reveal.

Gradually other sources came out with versions of the Free Beacon headline, but they were “the usual suspects”:The Washington Examiner, The Daily Mail, Breitbart, and other British tabloids. Eventually Fox News announced, “Crack pipe distribution funded by HHS, prioritizing ‘underserved’ communities: report.”

Still there was nary a peep about anything vaguely related to this claim by ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, MSNBC or CNN. (Newsweek, which has recently made the same calculations Bill Maher has and is migrating right having “read the room,” was the lone exception.) Either this was the traditional news outlets being responsible, or they were once again playing out this disgustingly familiar scene…

There was, however, a link in the Free Beacon story to a hitherto unnoticed $30 million Federal grant program, which closed applications this week and will begin handing out millions in May. As we all know, the government has no deficit or debt and has money to spend on pretty much any woke scheme it can dream up. The thing is called the 2022 Harm Reduction Program Grant, and will, it claims,

…support communitybased overdose prevention programs, syringe
services programs, and other harm reduction services. Funding will be used to enhance overdose and other types of prevention activities to help control the spread of infectious diseases and the consequences of such diseases for individuals with, or at risk of developing substance use disorders (SUD), support distribution of FDAapproved overdose reversal medication to individuals at risk of overdose, build connections for individuals at risk for, or with, a SUD to overdose education, counseling, and health education, refer individuals to treatment for infectious diseases, such as HIV, sexually
transmitted infections (STIs), and viral hepatitis, and encourage such individuals to take steps to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of substance use or misuse. This will include supporting capacity development to strengthen harm reduction programs as part of the continuum of care. Recipients will also
establish processes, protocols, and mechanisms for referral to appropriate treatment and recovery support
services. Grantees will also provide overdose prevention education to their target populations regarding the consumption of substances including but not limited to opioids and their synthetic analogs. Funds may also be used to help address the stigma often associated with risky behaviors and participation in harm reduction activities.

There is no mention of “crack pipes” anywhere in the document. The description does describe “safe smoking kits” as among the “equipment and supplies to enhance harm reduction efforts” the grants can be used to purchase, but nobody seems to know what a safe smoking kit contains. The “crack pipe” references are entirely speculative, and, of course, designed to make conservative heads explode. Similarly, the leap to connecting “crack pipes” with “racial equity” is an intentional stretch. What the document actually says about “racial equity” is…

Behavioral health equity refers to the right to access quality health care for all populations regardless of the individual’s race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or geographical location. This includes access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services for mental and substance use disorders. Advancing health equity involves ensuring that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. In conjunction with quality services, this involves addressing social
determinants of health (SDOH), such as employment and housing stability, insurance status, proximity to services, culturally responsive care all of which have an impact on behavioral health outcomes.

Yes, this is mostly standard progressive blather, long on idealism and short on reality, but still, it is unfair to interpret that aspirational language as supporting crack pipes as a means of reaching “racial equity,” especially since anyone with a cerebrum can figure out that access to addictive drugs will accomplish just the opposite.

And yet—these are the same people who think racism can be extinguished by discriminating against whites, and that freedom to choose means freedom to kill another human life. Who knows what they think is reasonable any more?

Is it ethical to state as fact in a headline what has not been confirmed, and to resort to the most inflammatory extrapolation of what is known in order to attract clicks and eyeballs? No. It is extremely unethical.

But wait! The mainstream media, or at least some of it, stuck its toe into this matter before the conservative media had its boots on. In October, the Washington Post told its readers—among which I am not if I can avoid it, that Biden’s HHS had pledged to employ a…

four-part strategy also includes measures to prevent drug addiction, in part by continuing to reduce the inappropriate prescribing of opioids; expanding medication-based treatment, which research has shown to be the most effective approach; and improving support for people recovering from substance use disorder.

That story, in contrast to the conservative stories coming out now, is an across the board cheerleading effort for the plan, and doesn’t mention such details as “smoking kits.” Mustn’t confuse or worry the hoi polloi, poor dears! You know, it’s like Dr. Fauci says: jsut give them the facts they can handle. What the littel people don’t know won’t hurt them.

By the way, did you know that democracy dies in darkness?

Is it ethical to write news reports to stack the facts in such a way to encourage public support for the government, while equal transparency regarding more troubling aspects of a program might encourage questions and criticism?


Complicating my ability to figure out what the hell is going on is the fact that I have an unshakable bias against recreational drug use, and believe fervently that the way to stop a destructive force in society is to unequivocally condemn it, make it illegal, and never, ever enable it. Drug use is wrong, just as alcohol abuse is wrong. It harms society, the economy, families, marriages, children and businesses. That means that the government has an ethical obligation to say, loudly and clearly, “NO!”, not “have some clean syringes and a “smoking kit.”

A few weeks ago, a new study reminded us that it is well-established science that getting high can harm cognitive function. A new review of research, published last month in the journal “Addiction” concluded that the brain chemistry impact of getting stoned may last well beyond the initial high, especially for adolescents. “Our study enabled us to highlight several areas of cognition impaired by cannabis use, including problems concentrating and difficulties remembering and learning, which may have considerable impact on users’ daily lives,” said coauthor Dr. Alexandre Dumais, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. “Cannabis use in youth may consequently lead to reduced educational attainment, and, in adults, to poor work performance and dangerous driving. These consequences may be worse in regular and heavy users.”

Funny, I figured that out when I was still in college. As with the studies that finally proved that smoking tobacco caused cancer, this just confirms what was obvious decades earlier. Never mind: states are rushing to legalize pot anyway, guaranteeing the predictable consequences.

Can you guess the part of the new HHS program description that bothers me the most? It is the program’s stated goal of “stigma reduction.”

There should be a stigma attached to drug addiction; also to illegal drug use and the abuse of prescription drugs. Stigmas sensitize ethics alarms. The disastrous Sixties kneecapped U.S. society and its ethical values by eliminating the stigmas attached to a whole list of toxic societal misconduct, including unmarried pregnancy, abortion, promiscuous sex, law-breaking, and disrespect for all levels of authority. How many deaths have resulted, and lives been destroyed (or just reduced in richness and productivity) because we allowed popular culture and arrogant elites to eliminate the crucial societal taboos on these behaviors that had been effective for so long? The total is incalculable, but surely horrifying.

Nothing about recreational drug use is sufficiently positive to balance or justify the massive negative consequences. Pot, the CNN piece says, has gained “acceptance of the drug as an acceptable way to socialize, relax and get better sleep.” Wow, that sure makes up for all the money wasted, the potentially productive time occupied by giggling and mumbling, the automobile accidents, the poor job performances and the receptiveness to using harder and more dangerous drugs. I have a college room mate who has the short term memory of a clam. The smartest friend I ever had, and I have a had a lot of smart friends, has only been able to work as a part-time librarian since his 20s after blowing out his mind on every drug he could get his hands on in college. Paul was a great, passionate, articulate, convincing advocate for legalizing drugs, back when he could speak in complete sentences.

So no, I have no idea how to deal with this story. I can’t trust the Left, the Right, or the news media for an open, unbiased discussion.

And I can’t trust myself.


19 thoughts on “Free Crack Pipes For Black Addicts? Help! I Have No Idea What To Make Of This Story

  1. Slojo knows from personal experience with the “smartest man he knows” that a fine meerschaum crack pipe peeping out of a jacket pocket really impresses the representatives of Russian oligarchs and Chinese state industries when one is trying to put together a deal. It’s hardly fair that only coddled white politically connected crackheads should have this advantage. Opportunities for grift should be more evenly available across all demographics.

  2. Thank you for this excellent analysis. I read the headline elsewhere and knew there had to be more. Then I came to Ethics Alarms and found your analysis. I’m much better informed now, still don’t know very much about what is going on with this program, but my disgust for most media has be reconfirmed. Thank you for tracking down the story and pointing out the ethical problems raised by the story.

  3. I saw the headline, but I am jaded enough to assume that some local advocacy group given money by this program decided that giving needles to heroin addicts was discriminating against crack users (who may be browner than the heroin addicts) and decided to give them crack pipes for racial equity. Then the news agency used that for their sensational headline. After seeing that a sheriff has taken civil asset forfeiture to its logical conclusion and is robbing armored cars and forensic scientists can now ‘legally’ be ordered to lie in court, I just assume that this has happened somewhere.

    • Michael R., that was my inference, as well.

      The law won’t say free crack pipes.

      The rules won’t say free crack pipes.

      The grants won’t say free crack pipes.

      But, the people handling some of the money (not being held to any standard of accountability) could say, “sure, we can cover free crack pipes. This is just like providing free needles.” (It’s not, but they were not given the money because they were smart.)

      The news then picks up on that one story and blows it out of proportion.

      However, if that is how this story played out, the news SHOULD blow it out of proportion. If government money that is NOT supposed to be spent on free crack pipes DOES, IN FACT, get spent on free crack pipes, that is a failure of the government to properly monitor the use of government funds. That is the only place accountability rests.


    • The logical conclusion will be the government giving out free pharmaceutical grade drugs. Fentanyl seems to be in everything. It’s the leading cause of death in the 18-49 demo, 100k died from Fentanyl in 2021, including a 13 year old who didn’t know her marijuana was laced with it.

  4. Assuming arguendo that the story is true, I surmise the intention behind supplying recreational drug addicts with clean paraphernalia would be to prevent them from contracting contagious diseases and certain illnesses.

    On the one hand, this might keep them healthier than they would otherwise be, and therefore in better shape for rehabilitation. On the other hand, it doesn’t really solve the problem of the liability of stagnation (decadence mode) and it enables and arguably encourages recreational drug use, both by insulating drug users from some of the risk factors, and by making it more convenient for them to get supplies.

    If there’s no plan to actually reduce recreational drug use, I’m ambivalent as to whether the distribution of clean drug paraphernalia would be worth the cost. I don’t know enough to conclude either way. I do know that I oppose not having a plan to reduce recreational drug use.

  5. A lot of meat on the bone there.

    Drug (or about any other) addiction isn’t ultimately solved by anyone but the user hitting “rock bottom.”

    Going from recollection on things I’ve read over the years, success rates from treatment programs are abysmally low, so spending great sums of money is a waste.

    It may feel cruel to leave them to their devices, but the reality is, nobody can really help them at that point anyway. Yes, we’ll watch loved ones destroy themselves, painful.

    “Do something” at it’s most futile and ineffective.

    Jack has it so right regarding the removal of the taboos and resulting effects. The same idiots or types of idiots feel bad that what they sought and achieved has led to misery, and now want to spend all our money to (not) fix their stupid, make themselves feel better. They’ve “done something”.

    But, with regard to pot, I go back to a story that looked at “recreational” alcohol use – it was at the Salt River in Phoenix, and showed all the usual disasters. A deputy made the comment “say all you want about pot, but I’ve never had somebody high on pot try to fight me.”

    I know there are other affects with pot, it’s not as benign as it’s adherents state, but neither is alcohol at equivalent quantities.

    We pays our money and takes our chances, it seems.

    • It sounds like they need to learn the difference between “misleading” and “false.” Based on their elaboration, it sounds like they want to say, “technically true, but misleading; here’s the context.” They might be worthy fo respect if that’s what they actually said up front, instead of trying to rate everything as a scalar between 0 (false) and 1 (true).

    • I was just going to make this exact same comment.

      Snopes was somehow able to rate a perfectly true statement false, update it to mostly false, and then call it “outdated” when new information came to light within 24 hours.

      • Right, Snopes now says “However, after this fact check was published, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Feb. 9 provided Snopes a statement which stipulated that federal funding would not be used to include pipes in the smoking kits required as part of the harm reduction plan. As a result, the accurate component of early news reports — that safe smoking kits typically contain glass pipes — was no longer applicable.”

        ” safe smoking kits typically consist of several other items, including: a rubber mouthpieces for glass pipes, in order to prevent burns and cuts; brass screens, in order to filter out potentially harmful contaminants or debris; as well as disinfectant wipes.”

        In spite of it all, Snopes says the early report of pipe inclusion was accurate. Psaki claims they never included pipes.

        So, who’s lying the most now, Snopes or Psaki? Is it a tie?

  6. Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that the pipes were never included in the kits, which are part of a $30 million grant program to support community-based overdose prevention programs and other harm reduction services. “It was inaccurate reporting, and we wanted to put out information to make that clear,” she said.

    The White House’s clarification comes after a conservative backlash against the program following a Washington Free Beacon article. The story reported that an unidentified Health and Human Services Department (HHS) spokesperson said the kits included pipes for users of cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and “any illicit substance.”

    Psaki told reporters that the “safe smoking” kits may contain alcohol swabs, lip balm and other materials to promote hygiene and reduce the transmission of HIV and diseases like hepatitis. The kits, she said, were part of steps the Biden administration is taking to combat the opioid crisis.

    So, there you have it. Crisis averted.


  7. Having worked in rehab approaches to drug addiction I have come to a conclusion that counters the current thinking. Addiction is neither caused by nor is an illness. It is the result of one making an immoral choice and repeating that choice over and over. I, therefore, have concluded that since a choice is a now inviolable cry we should allow the consequences of the choice to go unchecked. Instead of society intervening to save people from their choices we should stand by and allow those choices to end naturally be the inevitable death. NO to clean needles ( that didn’t work in the 70’S BTW), NO to safe havens for addicts to gather and be watched over likes babes, NO to pharmaceutical intervention to reverse the consequences of the individual choice. Not only should an individual say NO to drugs, but society must also say NO to the individuals who choose to engage in this behavior.

    • The process is much like the current less-policing-catch-and-release-with-no-serious-consequences methods with other criminals that is now causing increased pushback from the law-abiding public, and unconvincingly rationalized by the left.

      Serious druggies are a threat to others; they can’t hold jobs, so they’re criminally predatory on the rest of society to pay for their habits. How much is that costing others, not only for these programs in general, but monetarily, in quality of life, and in actual safety for the individual members of the public who are their victims? They cause actual harm. Why facilitate this to keep them safe and healthy?

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