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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the Biden administration "never" intended for federal funds to be spent on pipes for drug use, The Associated Press reported.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta also released a statement asserting that "no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits."
The stories referred to the administration's 2022 Harm Reduction Program Grant, which was issued by HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Grant documents showed a long list of "harm reduction activities" toward which municipalities and nonprofits could direct grant funds, and that list included "safe smoking kits."
Articles, studies, and public health documents routinely refer to pipes as one component of safe smoking kits, along with items such as rubber mouthpieces, disinfectant wipes, and brass filter screens.
The HHS document did not indicate that only "safe smoking kits" without pipes could be purchased using grant funds.
The Washington Free Beacon had reported that a spokesperson for HHS said pipes would be included in safe smoking kits eligible for grant funds. However, the Beacon also wrote that, officially, "an HHS spokesman declined to specify what is included in the smoking kits."
After the story circulated widely enough that a reporter asked about it at a briefing, Psaki insisted crack pipes were "never part of the kit" and blamed "inaccurate reporting."
Reporter Patrick Hauf, who wrote the Beacon report, shared screenshots on Twitter showing that after the briefing, Facebook added a label to his story indicating it contained "partly false information."
Update: The Daily Beast reports HHS showed via email records it did not tell the Beacon the kits would include pipes. The Beacon notes HHS didn't specifically bring up a ban on pipes. Read more at The Daily Beast.