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Federal government slams crackpipe vending machines

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Harper government is speaking out about the latest measure aimed at helping drug users on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney is blasting the Portland Hotel Society for operating Canada’s first crackpipe vending machines.

In a statement, Blaney writes, “We disagree with promoters of this initiative. Drug use damages the health of individuals and the safety of our communities. We believe law enforcement should enforce the law.”

He goes on to say, “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.”

The statement ends with Blaney vowing, “We will continue to protect Canadian families and communities against the harmful effects of dangerous and illegal drugs.”

For the past eight months, the Portland Hotel Society’s “Drug Users Resource Center” has been running two machines that sell crack pipes at 25 cents apiece.

By opposing them, Mark Townsend says the government is clearly out of touch.

“It would be nice if they don’t like these things to then try and get involved in some treatment, to try and get involved in some detox, and help us get people off drugs, because that’s we want to do as well.”

He adds it’s time the Feds were part of the solution.

“We could all beg to disagree but why don’t we work together to get people off drugs. It would make a lot of sense and they need to be a partner in this stuff, rather than just a rhetorical partner, you know, just making these silly statements.”

Townsend maintains the pipes are an important tool in limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.