On Saturdays, anyone can walk through the back door of a street-side community center in North Portland and pick up a snack, toothbrush or even a meth pipe.
Bagels and sandwiches sit on a side table, tourniquets and condoms on others. The spread caters to drug users, courtesy of a local branch of the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, a Seattle-based nonprofit.
The meth pipes are a recent inclusion for the Portland group, perhaps its most unusual. They’re being made available as a less risky option for methamphetamine users who might otherwise inject the drug, officials say, and because their patrons asked for them.
“Nobody knows what’s good for drug users better than drug users, and I think that’s a standpoint that’s neglected and really not given the credence and the value that it should,” volunteer Sam Junge said one Saturday last March at the nonprofit’s rented space in the St. Johns neighborhood.
He said he expects meth pipe programs will soon go the way of their syringe counterparts and become “standard practice in harm-reduction communities.”
But for now, Portland’s is one of only two in the U.S. with any real visibility.