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Blunt, Collins, Manchin Seek Answers from HHS on Potential for Taxpayer-Funded Drug Paraphernalia in So-Called “Safe Smoking Kits”

February 10, 2022

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.), Susan Collins (Maine), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), all of whom serve on the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra seeking answers regarding HHS’s recent funding opportunity announcement that could open the door for taxpayer dollars to be used to purchase and distribute drug paraphernalia, such as pipes for using crack cocaine or crystal meth.

“On February 7, 2022, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) closed a Notice of Funding Opportunity (No. SP-22-001) for nearly $30 million,” the senators wrote. “The Notice specifically allows grantees to purchase and provide ‘smoking kits/supplies… [and] syringes.’ According to harm reduction organizations Toward the Heart  and Interior Health, smoking kits may include ‘glass stem… [and] Meth pipes.’ These organizations state that these supplies are used to ‘smoke crack’ and ‘use crystal meth.’ While we understand some smoking kits may not include this paraphernalia, the SAMHSA Notice of Funding Opportunity does not include specific prohibitions against their inclusion.”

The senators note that, for 30 years, Congress has explicitly prohibited federal funds from being used to purchase needles or syringes for injection of any illegal drug.

The senators continued, “As a former legislator, we trust you understand the grave impact this policy may have on communities and recognize the Department’s harmful disregard for congressional intent. We hope that under your leadership, SAMHSA will not allow American taxpayer dollars to be used for such purposes, and clarify that this funding opportunity does not allow for purchasing of drug paraphernalia.”

To read the letter, click here.

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