The purported fact-checking website Snopes attempted to debunk reporting this week that said the Biden administration would be funding programs that distribute crack pipes.
Though the fact check is laced with a snide tone, it ultimately confirms reporting about the Biden administration’s plan to distribute crack pipes to drug addicts. Snopes begins by flipping the claim reported by numerous outlets: “In early 2022, the Biden administration endeavored to advance racial equity by distributing crack pipes to drug users.”
Snopes’ summary of its rating shows that everything about the claim is accurate, but Snopes still rates it as “Mostly False”:
In 2022, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services substance abuse harm reduction grant did require recipients to provide safer smoking kits to existing drug users. In distributing grants, priority would be given to applicants serving historically underserved communities. However…
This was just one of around 20 components of the grant program and far from its most prominent or important one, despite being the primary focus of outraged news reports. The purpose of the program was to reduce harm and the risk of infection among drug users, not to advance racial equity, although that was a secondary consideration.
According to Snopes, the grant program exists and is at least in part intended to “advance racial equity,” so the “Mostly False” rating seems harsh.
Snopes’ longer explanation further confirms reporting from right-leaning outlets, though the fact-checking website claims the posts lack context and are therefore misleading. Context, however, doesn’t make it any less true that the grant program would provide crack pipes to drug users and prioritize “underserved communities.” Snopes quotes from the Health and Human Services document discussing racial equity:
What the HHS document did say about racial equity was as follows. Every applicant for the harm reduction grant is required to provide a two-page “behavioral disparity impact statement,” which roughly speaking, sets out in advance, details about the population which the grant applicant serves, including individuals from historically underserved communities including “racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender minority groups.”
The document further states that: “The priority populations for this program are underserved communities that are greatly impacted by SUD [substance use disorders]” and clarifies that “underserved communities” is as defined in Executive Order 13985 — Biden’s first executive order, signed on Jan. 20, 2021.
That Executive Order said:
It is…the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.
The Washington Free Beacon confirmed with an HHS spokesman before publication that the Biden administration would be providing crack pipes.
“A spokesman for the agency told the Washington Free Beacon that these kits will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and ‘any illicit substance,’” the outlet reported.
As The Daily Wire reported, Sarah Lovenheim, an assistant secretary for public affairs for HHS, denied the reporting after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) highlighted the claim.
“Blatant misinformation. The Harm Reduction grant is designed to help folks struggling with substance use stay healthy and safe, prevent overdose death. The grants must stick to federal, state, local laws or regs,” Lovenheim said.
Patrick Hauf, who first reported the story, responded to Lovenheim by saying: “Again, I have yet to receive a response from the HHS on how my story is misinformation. The HHS confirmed to me last week that the ‘smoking kits’ they fund are used to smoke crack, meth, and ‘any illicit substance.’ This ‘misinformation’ push today is complete nonsense.”
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