Portland meth-pipe giving group targeted with vandalism - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland meth-pipe giving group targeted with vandalism

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A controversial Portland organization that gives free meth pipes to drug users was target with vandalism over the weekend.

Somebody spray-painted the words, ‘Stop supporting Meth’ across the side of Anarres Infoshop & Community Space in north Portland. 

The group, which is called Portland People’s Outreach Project, said it believes recent publicity surrounding its meth pipe giveaways spurred the attack.

“Something like that just adds to the stigma, to the contempt and the ostracism that drug users face,” volunteer Sam Junge said about the message. “But really we haven’t faced much negative criticism at all, almost all of the response has been positive both from the community and from our participants.”

It works like this: drug users can come into the shop at designated times to pick up new needles, meth pipes and anti-overdose medications for free. The immediate goal is to make drug use safer. 

“By providing a pipe, we’re giving somebody an opportunity -- who may otherwise inject drugs and potentially spread HIV or Hepatitis C by reusing a syringe somebody else has already used,” Junge said. 

However, Young adds the long-term effect can be so much more. 

“We’re potentially referring someone to healthcare, or to treatment, or educating someone about Naloxone, and preventing an overdose,” Junge said. 

Unlike public health agencies with similar needle programs, those who go to Portland People’s Outreach Project do not have to turn in used needles to get new ones. 

The vandalism was recently painted over and a chalkboard and chalk was added to the outside of the building as a means for people to express concerns or messages of support. 

“We’re going to be there for them to help them use drugs safely, and if they don’t want to use drugs, to help them with that too,” Junge said. “It’s not acceptable for one drug user to die, and by providing meth pipes, we’re potentially saving lives.” 

Perhaps even more controversial, some cities, including Seattle, are considering opening ‘Safe Injection Sites,’ where people can use drugs under medical supervision. 

So far, the Portland People’s Outreach Project has given away more than 260,000 syringes. The group is a branch of the Seattle-based People’s Harm Reduction Alliance.

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