Crack kits do not mean its ok to smoke crack

Kudos to the City of Victoria (and to Philippe Lucas, whom I know was relentless in pushing for this initiative) for voting in favor of a crack-kit distribution trial.

Victoria addicts to get free crack-pipe parts

Council voted in favour of the idea on Thursday.

It’s hoped the harm-reduction kits, which cost less than $2 each, will help curb the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

“If someone uses a crack pipe and there’s blood on their lips and they hand it to someone else who has a cut lip, then that’s an entry line into the bloodstream,” said Katrina Jensen with AIDS Vancouver Island.

The push sticks are meant to replace the syringe plungers many addicts use, thereby cutting down on the amount of discarded needles and potentially toxic melted plastic.

Bruce MacDonald, who lives on the street in Victoria, said he’s seen crack cocaine become almost mainstream in recent years.

“It’s a problem everywhere,” he said. “It’s an epidemic, and it’s getting worse. Twenty years ago it wasn’t this bad.”

VIHA launched a similar pilot project in Nanaimo, also on Vancouver Island, in 2007, but the plan was suspended after community backlash.

Those living in Victoria aren’t convinced handing out crack kits is a good idea, either.

“It’s saying it’s all right to do it [crack],” said resident Christopher Hage.

“I guess we should be spending our money helping people with the drugs rather than providing them easier access to them,” said Dennis McPhail.

Sharing of crack pipes or, worse, the broken tubes of glass that often substitute for pipes, is known to increase the spread of disease. Poorly made “pipes” often burn the lips of smokers, leading to infection and more serious problems. Providing harm reduction approaches to crack smoking only makes sense and its nice to see municipalities looking at the big picture.

The last comments, from opponents, need addressing. Not because the points are logical or strong arguments. Quite the opposite. The two comments represent a mode of thinking about drug use and thus drug policy that is unfortunately very common. Its this type of thinking, amongst the lay public, that needs to be examined in order that we can all move past the preconceptions that are the foundation of the viewpoints.

Mr. Hage believes that crack kits mean that the City is saying its all right to do crack. Does putting filters on cigarettes mean its ok to smoke? If you drink lite beer is it ok to pound 12 every night? Does using reduced-fat mayo mean its ok to go through a jar a day? Does requiring seatbelts mean its ok to drive unsafely? The propositions are absurd. Providing people with safer ways to engage in activity does not equate to societal blessing of that activity.

Mr. McPhail wants to spend money helping people with drugs rather than providing easier access to the drugs. First, the crack kits will help people. Using a kit, for example, could keep someone from becoming HIV or Hep C positive. That helps. Second, providing someone with a pipe does not in any way provide them with easier access to the drug that goes into the pipe. And so people struggling with problematic crack use will still need to steal, or prostitute, or beg for enough money to buy the drugs. Rest assured, Mr. McPhail, having that safer pipe in your pocket doesn’t get you around the hell you may have to go through to get the drug. It may, however, just prevent the hell from getting markedly worse.



  1. Anonymous on

    and the only one who spells like this is jason wilcox. i saw your videos about your plight as a hard core drug addict who got infected with aids. please.

  2. law student on

    i have a brother and a cousin who are ‘addicted’, and i have tried the hard stuff, so i know what its all about. i choose to use cannabis, however, because i do not have an addictive nature. your comments are very presumptuous, when you say that i dont understand addiction. i know that you can be addicted to ANYTHING, food, video games, sex, gambling, drugs, its all the same thing. its not the substance, its the person.

    and what this all has to do with “cannabis culture” i dont know. i think that if you and mr tousaw really believe in your heart of hearts that everybody should have a clean crack pipe, then you should hand out crack pipes yourselves, and leave us (cannabis culture at large) out of it. just do it from your house, and post your address on the website.

  3. str8upstoner on

    My name is Justin I am 29 years old and a recovering Methamphetamine addict I first tried Meth when I was 14 yrs. old with my best friend and his mom both of whom told me not to worry it won’t do anything. Well they couldn’t have been more wrong for the next ten years I(and my family)struggled with an overwhelming addiction that hurt not only me but everyone who truly cared for me,I would do anything to get it, selling my parents stuff, stealing money from them,stealing from stores,ripping people off you name it I probably did it or came real close. So now 5 yrs off of a debilitating addiction I’ve decided to share my saving grace with all of you, CANNABIS saved my life, turned me into a productive member of society and saved the relationship I now have with my family. I now use Cannabis in my daily life not to get stoned(except at night before bed) but to self medicate for my ADHD as well as treating my addiction to Meth. Cannabis truly is a gift from god without it I would be dead or in prison. I really think there should be a place were truly addicted people could go to be treated for there hard drug addiction with Cannabis what do you guys think?

  4. Dreamer on

    Spoken like someone who hasn’t the slightest clue of what its means to be ADDICTED to something. You might also beleave that all homeless people chose to live on the street because they don’t won’t the responceiblty of going to work and spending thier money on rent. Until you have gone threw the same addiction as them you have no fucking idea what your talking about. The drug addict begging for change on the street is no longer in control of thier life. You bashing them in anyway is not going to shine the “light” on thier situation and make them see something they didn’t all ready know. Your just becoming another reason for them to do the same drug they are out there begging change to get. Those people need treatment/detox centers that they can stay at(free of charge) until they have over come thier addiction problem enough to be able to join the rest of society. True addiction never goes away, its sticks with you for life and is an everyday struggle not to do the drug until you die.

  5. law student on

    only an already addicted person would ‘benefit’ from this strange program, so i dont see it as encouraging drug use.

    i dont agree with the idea that crack addicts are powerless to stop using drugs. its more like, people who choose to use hard drugs are choosing the path of least responsibility.

    the last thing in the world i personally want to do is enable these types of people. whehn an obvious hard drug addict asks me for spare change on the street, not only do i say no, make sure they feel like shit for asking me! thats what youre supposed to do; not give them a dollar, and not politely decline.