Portland, Oregon – The city of Portland will soon begin handing out aluminum foil and straws to fentanyl smokers in the latest attempt at ‘harm reduction’ according to the Daily Mail.
Officials with the Multnomah County Health Department confirmed the controversial plan to local news outlets saying they will also hand out glass pipes and snorting kits.
Health director Jessica Guernsey said they have seen a ‘shift from injection drug use’ and the new handouts will help to engage those who ‘may not otherwise.’
‘The new part of the program is that we’re adding supplies for people who smoke drugs,’ Guernsey said, citing that fentanyl is typically smoked by users now.
Portland is currently dealing with both a fentanyl and overall drug epidemic on top of a homeless crisis.
Multnomah County spokesperson Sarah Dean said the rise in fentanyl users smoking the drug has reduced the need for injection services.
Visits to clinics for injection tools and syringes – which the city currently offers for free – have dropped by 60 percent since 2019 the spokesperson said.
Despite the county’s health team swearing that their program has aided the city’s ever-growing drug problem, residents and city leaders remain opposed.
‘This misguided approach also results in greater risk to public safety for those who simply want to enjoy our city without walking through a cloud of toxic smoke,’ said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
In June, the mayor of the drug-filled city proposed criminalizing public drug use, however, Wheeler later reneged on his statement after a bill criminalizing possession of fentanyl passed through the Oregon Legislature.
HB 2645 would make possession of more than a gram a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by a year-long jail term, a fine of up to $6,250, or both.
In a statement to the Willamette Weekly regarding the proposal to hand out drug kits to fentanyl smokers, Wheeler said he could not disagree more strongly.
‘I adamantly oppose distributing paraphernalia to encourage using a drug that is the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 and responsible for 190 fatal overdoses a day in the U.S.,’ Wheeler told the local paper.