The Biden administration said on Thursday it will schedule meetings with each grant recipient of its controversial harm reduction program to ensure taxpayer dollars don't go toward crack pipes—a pledge that follows a Washington Free Beacon report that organizations slated to receive these funds are actively distributing crack and meth pipes.
In response to the story, which detailed how the Department of Health and Human Services is set to fund two Maine harm reduction groups that as recently as last week were distributing free crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia, an agency spokesman said the department will now schedule meetings with each recipient to review their offerings.
"As next steps, the Government Program Officer/Grant Management Specialist will schedule meetings with each grantee to review/confirm that each supply item is allowable," a department spokesman told the Free Beacon. "Recipients must consult with their assigned project officer and grants management specialist prior to purchasing harm reduction equipment and supplies."
The department's pledge to vet each harm reduction group's purchase marks the latest shift in the Biden administration's plan to prevent federal funding of crack pipes. The Free Beacon first reported in February that the Biden administration was set to fund the distribution of crack pipes. Facing blowback, the White House said it did not "support federal funding, indirect or direct, for pipes" and that crack pipes were "never" going to be included. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that "no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits."
No plan was ever offered, however, on how the administration would ensure that its grant money wouldn't go toward crack pipes, which are commonly included in the so-called safe smoking kits distributed by harm reduction organizations, according to a Free Beacon investigation earlier this year.
The administration in May announced the recipients of its harm reduction grants. Included on the list was a Maine health group that funnels money to two harm reduction organizations that both distribute crack pipes.
The two Maine groups that provide crack pipes and meth pipes—Church of Safe Injection and Maine Access Points—were not listed as recipients in HHS's grant award announcement. The groups revealed their participation in the federal program through Facebook posts in July. MaineHealth, the largest health network in the state, is listed as the lone recipient of the $1.2 million grant and will coordinate with the two harm reduction groups to distribute drug paraphernalia throughout Maine, according to a local news outlet.
HHS did not respond to requests for comment on why the groups were excluded from the grant announcement.
The Daily Caller reported last month that a New York organization that was awarded nearly $400,000 through the Biden administration's grant program was also actively distributing crack pipes.
The Church of Safe Injection told the Free Beacon it will continue to distribute pipes after its federally funded harm reduction program launches. A spokeswoman for the organization said its pipes will be funded by money separate from the federal grant. HHS did not respond to a question on whether this qualifies as "indirect" funding for pipes, which the White House said it would not support.