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Massive Controversy Over Canada’s Crack Pipe Vending Machines

Vending machines keep popping up in cities around the world, but a number of those machines aren’t selling traditional candy bars and flavored popcorn.

Just a few weeks before Colorado set up its first marijuana vending machines, an organization located in Vancouver opened their own quick convenience stop. What sets the Canadian machines apart, however, is their merchandise: crack pipes.

Believe it or not, a Canadian nonprofit group installed the crack pipe vending machines. The brightly colored polka-dot machines actually dispense glass pipes, charging users just 25¢ per transaction. Operated by the Portland Hotel Society, the vending machines are meant to decrease the spread of HIV and hepatitis, two common effects of smoking crack cocaine.

Vending Initiative

Crack pipes can cost more than $10, forcing many addicts to use the same pipe over and over. When crack users share pipes or construct their own homemade devices, the risk of injury and cross-contamination increases by leaps and bounds. Recognizing this demand, the Portland Hotel Society set out to make glass-smoking devices accessible and affordable. Additionally, the machines provide access to clean, safe supplies.

One machine is located within the Portland Hotel Society’s own drug treatment center, while a second is found inside a local convenience store. By offering clean crack pipes for a low price, the group hopes to see the pipe’s street value decline across the board.

Is Easy Access a Bad Thing?

Similar to its own needle exchange programs, Canada’s vending machine initiative seeks to take a pro-active stance on addiction. However, these machines are only a small piece of one whole, the Portland Hotel Society warns. Crack addicts also need treatment services, a detox plan, a safe place to use drugs, and clean supplies.

It’s no surprise these vending machines have caused quite the public uproar. While supporters see this as a way to reduce infectious diseases and bring addicts into contact with rehab services, selling crack pipes just isn’t a very popular move. Citing one of the same issues held by Colorado’s marijuana vending machine critics, Canadians fear the sale of drug paraphernalia does nothing more than encourage substance abuse.

What do you think? Will Canada’s crack pipe vending machines help decrease the spread of HIV and hepatitis, or will they just encourage substance abuse? Leave a comment!