Canada’s Crack Pipe Vending Machines
By Don Ferguson on Saturday, February 15, 2014
When the folks in Vancouver Canada stumbled across a range of unusual vending machines in the Downtown Eastside of the city, they undoubtedly though the local council had been smoking something.
The truth is that they weren’t far wrong, with a range of 25 cent crack pipes available to the city’s local addicts for the last six months.
Fact of the matter is that the thinking behind it isn’t driven by abusing contraband, instead fuelled by some clever thinking and a worthy cause – targeting the spread of infectious diseases among addicts due to the sharing of chipped or broken pipes.
Devised, organised and executed by a local drug addiction outreach group The Drug Users Resource Centre, the non-profit organisation’s vending machines are aiming to reduce the proliferation of Hepatitis C and HIV among users.
Fitted in a neighbourhood considered one of Canada’s poorest, each machine sports a rather fetching colourful polka-dot design so as to puncture the stigma of drug addiction and engender respect from the general public to struggling addicts. What’s more, the out there scheme is designed to also have a genuine impact on prices of the illicit paraphernalia.
Kailin See, Director of The Drug Users Resource Centre said
“This machine decreases the street value of a pipe.”
“There was a time when pipes were scarce and there was a lot of violence around acquiring a pipe, so we decided to saturate the market.”
Not exactly the most popular initiative among Canada’s conservative government, it is very much in line with the UK’s on-going free needle exchange for intravenous heroin users – except this campaign has helped raise awareness among the wider general public.
What is clear is that the intentions are good, however it does remain to be seen if this slightly wacky approach will pay dividends in terms of genuinely helping those most in need.