After the HIV Planning and Prevention Council suggested the San Francisco Department of Public Health look into starting a crack pipe exchange program, city hall officials and the DPH itself balked at the idea. Now one Tenderloin resident, drug user and advocate has promised to hand out clean crack pipes to "25 to 50" lucky recipients during an event in March, whether or not that is actually legal.
Although "extraordinary American" Mayor Lee has yet weigh in on the proposed plan directly, his spokeswoman told the media he was "not supportive" last week. DPH Director Barbara Garcia also shut down the idea, saying that if the plan came across her desk, her answer would be: "absolutely no, we are not going to distribute crack pipes."
The sober opposition in city hall didn't sway Tenderloin resident Isaac Jackson, however. According to the Examiner, Jackson is a "drug user, and founder and president of the nascent Urban Survivors Network, a tiny group of drug user advocates." (Indeed, the organization appears very nascent — the Examiner's story this morning is the only reference we could find to any organization with that name in San Francisco.) Although Jackson won't say who is fronting the money, he promised to give away several dozen smoking implements during an event his group is planning for the first week in March.
Of course, there are loopholes to these sorts of things: Selling pipes and bongs for marijuana use is also illegal under state and federal laws, but you can't walk down Market Street in front of the Westfield Mall without tripping over a guy selling glass out of a briefcase. A few years back, the city tried to crack down on the sale of crack pipes at smoke shops specifically. That initiative led to exactly five of smoke shops getting hassled by SFPD. The local police so far have not commented on Jackson's plan. But as the Examiner points out, needle exchange programs began in much the same way and San Francisco now gives away 2.7 million of those a year.