Crack Pipe Vending Machines – What’s Next?
“This is all about health care and keeping people safe.” ~ Kailin See, director of the DUR Centre
Usually, people are expecting to get drinks, snacks..and maybe even the odd disgusting hot meal out of a vending machine these days – but CRACK PIPES?!
But these aren’t usual times, and you can now find crack pipe vending machines in two locations in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver Canada. One on East Cordova, and one at Washington Market on East Hastings. Much like the concept of the benefits of giving out free needles – it’s hoped that by offering crack pipes (for 25 cents each) – it will improve health and safety on the streets of the Vancouver’s often dangerous ‘Downtown East Side’.
Crack pipes can cost $5 or even more on the street – depending on availability, and the desperation of the crack addict.
So, selling the Pyrex pipes, which are safer than regular glass, at cost serves another purpose: it saturates the market, therefore acting to drive down the price on the street.
“You can come in and get as many as you need,” See said. “For us, this is a health intervention and a safety intervention, through and through.”
“We’re not quite there yet with pipes, where we are with needles,” Kailin See, director of the DUR Centre said. “But to us, it’s all the same. We need to ensure people aren’t spreading diseases, and keeping people’s mouths and bodies as healthy as possible.”
That can put people at risk – especially women – either trading sex or drugs for pipes, or just generally putting them in the way of harm, See says.
Just as a kit is provided with clean needles – the crack pipes come with their own cleaning paraphernalia: Alcohol swabs for sterilizing, steel wool and push stick for cleaning, and even a mouthpiece to avoid germs. All health centres have been distributing clean needles and crack pipes for ages, but the vending machine concept is just six months old.
“There’s not a lot out there for smokers, and there needs to be,” See said. “I am not a health-care professional, but as I understand you can contract (Hepatitis, HIV or Herpes) by sharing a pipe, especially if you have sores in your mouth or your pipe is chipped.”
“So there’s blood, or there’s saliva, bodily fluids are exchanged, there’s risk. That’s primarily why we do this.” ~ Kailin See
How do you feel about having these crack pipe vending machines in Canada? Would you allow them in your own neighborhood? Most people seem to think this is a good idea for the sake of the health benefits, while other people feel shocked that such a thing could be a reality. Well, it is.
Japan really loves their vending machines, and don’t think even they have a crack pipe one, but maybe! Whether you feel this is a proper health issue, or whether you feel the government is stepping over their boundaries into the private rights and lives of adult human beings, the crack pipe vending machines seem here to stay.
What other items can you think of that might make it into a vending machine in the near future?
Can’t wait to see!