Two vending machines selling crack pipes, the first of its kind, have been launched in Vancouver. The Drug Users' Resource Centre for the Portland Hotel Society, the non-profit group that help pave its launch, said it will help curb the spread of HIV and other communicable diseases among its users.
The vending machines sells a crack pipe at $0.25 a piece. The two crack-pipe vending machines are found at the Washington Market in Vancouver. The machines are covered in colorful polka dots. Each machine holds 200 pipes and is re-stocked every five days.
Drug users are encouraged to but as many Pyrex crack pipes as they need instead of borrowing or sharing drug paraphernalia with other users.
"Various studies show a correlation between HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases with crack pipe use. People can have sores on their lips, and [get diseases] from cracked or broken pipes," Mark Townsend, an addictions worker with the Portland Hotel Society, told FoxNews.com.
"A hepatitis C infection can cost [the health care system] anywhere from $200,000 to $1.4 million; that's a lot of money a 25-cent crack pipe can mitigate," Mr Townsend said.
Purchasing new and clean pipes every now and so often helps reduce the spread of communicable diseases, even the common colds.
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"Everything from flu, colds, cold sores, HIV: If you cut your lip on a pipe that someone else has been using, there are risks there," the Society's Kailin See told CTV Vancouver.
But others believed putting out the vending machines in the open will jeopardise the hard efforts recovering addicts are making to curb their unwanted vices.
"People fighting their addictions can't be around them because it is too much temptation," Destiny Brereton told the Guardian News. Ms Brereton has parents who were both addicts.
The Portland Hotel Society maintained its vending machine program had the approval of city officials and the local police department.
Steven Blaney, conservative federal safety minister, blasted the scheme because it will help encourage use of drug paraphernalia among young people.
"We disagree with promoters of this initiative. Drug use damages the health of individuals and the safety of our communities," he said in a statement.
"While the NDP and Liberals would prefer that doctors hand out heroin and needles to those suffering from addiction, this Government supports treatment that ends drug use, including limiting access to drug paraphernalia by young people."