A Texas-based drug recovery group is allegedly distributing crack pipes and other “harm reduction resources” using federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Recovery Alliance of El Paso claims to help those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions using “harm reduction” strategies, including providing them with fentanyl test strips, Narcan, and “smoke kits.”
“Compassionate and service-oriented, we address community needs through recovery coaching, sober housing, and peer services,” wrote the group. “Acting as responsible advocates and brokers, we strive to create an environment for positive experience through community centers and social and recreational events.”
However, the Recovery Alliance of El Paso’s “smoke kits” allegedly include crack pipes.
The organization told the Dallas Express that the kits provide community members with a “small, cylinder glass.”
However, after facing public outrage last year following reports that HHS was distributing crack pipes to citizens using taxpayer dollars, the White House denied that the federal government handed out the paraphernalia.
“Even though this has never been a part of what’s been funded, we felt it was important to put out a public statement from the federal government to make that clear because we saw the spreading of misinformation and the fact that it was having an impact on a range of communities,” said former White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “And we felt, even though it was never true, that we needed to put out a proactive statement.”
HHS also released a statement claiming that organizations would not be allowed to purchase or distribute crack pipes using federal grants.
However, the Recovery Alliance of El Paso has received close to $800,000 in federal grants from HHS since 2022, calling into question the legality of their actions.
The Dallas Express also questioned if the organization is breaking state law by allegedly distributing crack pipes.
Texas’ Health and Safety Code 481.002(17) states:
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally uses or possesses with intent to use drug paraphernalia … to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter.
According to the HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—which oversees the agency’s harm reduction program—grant recipients are not allowed to include drug paraphernalia in smoking kits.
“SAMHSA sent the following Terms and Conditions language to all Harm Reduction Grant recipients upon grant award: “Award funds shall not be used, directly or indirectly, to purchase or promote the use of drug paraphernalia, including pipes/pipettes in safer smoking kits,” said spokesperson Brandon Costerison. “Grant recipients were also reminded that grant recipient organizations must comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the use of SAMHSA funds.”