Charity will continue distributing crack pipes, regardless of ban

A local charity will continue distributing materials for smoking crack cocaine regardless of the ban Alberta Health Services has issued to one of its own agencies.

Tools for smoking crack cocaine include a glass pipe stem

Tools for smoking crack cocaine include a glass pipe stem



A local charity will continue distributing materials for smoking crack cocaine regardless of the ban Alberta Health Services has issued to one of its own agencies.

Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, executive director of the Central Alberta AIDS Network Society, said on Tuesday that Safeworks, a harm prevention agency of Alberta Health Services, has been ordered to stop distributing stems, hoses, pipes, screens and other items used for smoking crack cocaine. The agency will continue distributing needles.

Although the provincial agency and the charity provide similar services, the order will have no impact on the distribution system set up at CAANS, Vanderschaeghe said during a meeting with local reporters on Tuesday.

CAANS distributes tools used for smoking crack for two reasons, she said.

Besides cutting down the health hazards that face people who smoke crack, access to clean equipment brings users into the CAANS office where staff can get to know them so they can offer whatever help they are willing to accept, including helping find ways to get clean.

Access to good tools helps prevent injury and prevents users from spreading disease, including HIV and hepatitis C, said Vanderschaeghe.

“It’s an important public health policy. It’s important that the users have the opportunity to prevent HIV and hep C and it’s the right thing to do, because they deserve access to health care and this is what this is,” she said.

Research shows that access to safe materials does not increase drug use but can actually decrease drug use, and also decreases litter, said Vanderschaeghe.

There is a time after prevention attempts have failed and before the user quits where CAANS is the only agency working with people when they are most vulnerable to overdoses.

“We’re the ones who have credibility with this population. It’s important that somebody in their world trusts them and will help them when they need it,” she said.

CAANS gives out an average of 500 items for smoking crack every month, with limits on the number of pieces a user can get per day, covered by donations to the group.

Costs of individual pieces include 34 cents for the glass stems, 79 cents for a package of screens, $20 for 152 feet of hose that is then cut into suitable lengths and $1.59 for enough skewers to make 1,000 push sticks.

Each piece of equipment is distributed individually because some pieces are quite expensive and can be safely reused. The glass stem, for example, can be reused up to 1,000 times.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
A CN rail worker stands on an idle locomotive as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CN makes rival bid to CP Rail’s offer to buy U.S. railway Kansas City Southern

Offer tops proposal made last month by Canadian Pacific Railway

The Rogers Logo is photographed on a Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers says wireless service fully restored after daylong nationwide outage

Wireless interruption had deep economic implications

President Joe Biden meets with members of congress to discuss his jobs plan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Feds weighing how to respond after verdict in Chauvin trial

The verdict, and the aftermath, will be a test for Biden

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, centre, tables the federal budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday April 19, 2021. The federal government unveiled spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course for a post-pandemic Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois to propose budget rewrites as debate starts

O’Toole has signalled that his party will propose its own economic recovery plan

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

The controversial Super League is materializing after Madrid and 11 other clubs announced its creation on Sunday. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
Super League a ‘longtime dream’ for Madrid president Pérez

League created because coronavirus pandemic left clubs in a dire financial situation

San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau (12) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, in San Jose, Calif., Monday, March 29, 2021. Marleau is skating in his 1,757th game. Only one other player in NHL history has hit that mark. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Tony Avelar
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s record for most NHL games played

Marleau was set to suit up for the 1,768th time Monday

FILE - In this Saturday April 17, 2021 file photo, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II follows the coffin in a car as it makes it’s way past the Round Tower during the funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip inside Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. Now that the Royal Family has said farewell to Prince Philip, attention will turn to Queen Elizabeth II’s 95th birthday on Wednesday, April 21 and, in coming months, the celebrations marking her 70 years on the throne. This combination of events is reminding the United Kingdom that the reign of the queen, the only monarch most of her subjects have ever known, is finite. (Leon Neal/Pool via AP, file)
Queen enters ‘twilight’ of reign after farewell to Philip

Charles’ increased role began gradually

This combination photo shows Oscar nominees for best actress, from left, Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Andra Day in “The United States vs Billie Holiday,” Vanessa Kirby in “Pieces of a Woman,” Frances McDormand in “Nomadland and Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman.” (Netflix, from left, Hulu, Netflix, Searchlight Pictures, Focus Features via AP)
Oscar predictions: Can anything beat ‘Nomadland’?

Best actress race is perhaps the biggest wild card

Letters
Letter: Restrictions have nothing to do with religion

Many have framed the closure of GraceLife Church near Edmonton by Alberta… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Thanking volunteers in Red Deer

National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24. At the Canadian Cancer… Continue reading

Letter to the editor
Letter: Good on MLAs for speaking out

This is a letter in regard to MLAs not standing united behind… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Happiness can be found in many ways

I’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. I… Continue reading

Most Read