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Canadian vending machines now sell crack pipes in Vancouver
Canadian vending machines now sell crack pipes in Vancouver

Canadian vending machines now sell crack pipes in Vancouver

In what just might be the worst vending concept ever, a charitable organization in British Columbia is placing crack pipe machines. The program, started by the Portland Hotel Society, has installed the machines in hopes of curbing transmission of infectious diseases.

The crack pipe venders, which sell polka-dotted glass pipes for a quarter, are located in two locations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. According to local news reports, the machines hold 200 crack pipes and are refilled every five days.

“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.”

Crack pipes can cost $5 or even more on the street, depending on availability and the desperation of the smoker.

That can put people, especially women, at risk, either trading sex or drugs for pipes or just generally putting them in harm’s way, See said.

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.”

Just as a kit is provided with clean needles, the crack pipes come with their own paraphernalia: Push sticks, Brillo, screen, mouthpiece and alcohol swabs.

The Centre has been distributing clean needles and crack pipes for ages, but the vending machine idea is 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 (Hepatitus, HIV, 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

“This is all about health care and keeping people safe.”


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