NYC’s Drug-themed Vending Machine Big Hit With Drug Users

Local addicts quickly cleaned out the new drug-themed vending machine that city officials installed with complimentary crack pipes, lip balm, and Narcan.

By one in the afternoon, a drug-prevention program employee began replenishing the vending machine with additional drug-test strips, Narcan, and condoms. Depending on which items sell out quickly, the vending machine may need to be restocked up to twice daily.


Self-described crack user Minoshi Calpe, 56, took the second-to-last item in the vending machine, a fentanyl testing strip, at about 11 a.m., worrying the free pipes’ glass might not be good enough.

By the evening, drug-prevention staffer Elan Quashie replaced the vending machine’s other products, but not its pipes.

The machine, which was put in place in the drug-filled neighborhood on Monday, is the first of four new devices.

It will give locals free access to a variety of drug-themed stuff, such as condoms, sanitary products, nicotine chewing gum, and smoking kits with pipes, mouthpieces, and lip balm.

Other items will include overdose-reversing medication Narcan, fentanyl-detecting strips, and overdose-reversing medications.

At a Monday press briefing revealing the vending device, city Health and Mental Hygiene Chief Ashwin Vasan warned future machines may carry heroin and other narcotic syringes.

The city hopes clean supplies will help reduce fatal overdoses and keep drug users safer, but if we are all being honest, that is not likely.

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The project, however, is unpopular with some residents and pols. After a day, the machine had only one Narcan overdose-reversing box and two drug-testing strips.

Before stocking, each machine costs $11,000. Customers simply enter a zip code to acquire free drug paraphernalia. “Poor Choices” was scribbled nearby.

Mayor Eric Adams, who ran against legalizing dangerous drugs in 2021, appears to have changed his position on the machine.

However, the Adams administration also stated earlier this year that it hoped to have five “safe” drug injection locations in the city by 2025, so drug users could shoot up without worrying about getting caught.

Two charity organizations in Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan offer injection sites, with more expected in drug-plagued areas like the South Bronx.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.