Some Canadian cities distribute clean glass stems for smoking crack. (CBC)Vancouver Coastal Health currently distributes clean crack pipe mouthpieces but not entire pipes.
Vancouver will join a small number of Canadian cities, including Calgary and Winnipeg, that hand out clean pipes as a harm-reduction strategy. The pilot project will launch later this year.
Some Canadian cities, including Toronto, distribute mouthpieces or glass stems to mitigate the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Two years ago, a study out of B.C. found drug users who smoke crack cocaine were at an increased risk of contracting HIV.
Last month, figures released by faculty at the University of Victoria found about two thirds of crack users in Vancouver and Victoria share pipes, which researchers warned was putting them at risk of HIV or hepatitis.
Proponents of harm-reduction strategies say needle exchanges and free crack pipes not only prevent the spread of disease, but also put users in contact with health-care workers.
"Will these services stop them from using drugs? For some people it will, but some won't," says Walter Cavalieri of the Canadian Harm Reduction Network. "Some will continue to use drugs but use them safely, some will cut back, and some will die, but their lives and health will be greatly improved."
However, in 2008, the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board denounced crack pipe programs, saying they violate a worldwide anti-drug convention Canada signed in 1988.
Should more Canadian cities hand out clean crack pipes to drug users? Or should such programs be cancelled altogether? Let us know what you think.
With files from the Canadian Press.
(This survey is not scientific, it is based on readers' responses.)
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