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Several e-cig blogs recently reported that two German scientists believe a crack cocaine vape pen, or “crack pen,” can help treat stimulant addictions. Did this really happen, or were these blogs just blowing smoke?
Yes, there really are two legit scientists proposing that we give people with drug addictions access to crack pens. Here’s the scoop.
Last week, blogs such as Vaping Post, Vape Monitor, Vaping Voice, and the conspiracy site Extension 13 all reported on the crack pen. Regardless of how shady these sites may seem, their reports are based on a real peer-reviewed science paper published in Drug Science on Oct. 16, 2021. If it helps, established, credible publications such as Discover Magazine and Filter Mag also reported on the crack pen.
The paper’s authors are two German-based scientific researchers, the drug toxicologist Fabian Steinmetz and the sociologist Heino Stöver, who specializes in the social aspects of drug addiction.
OK, with all that credibility stuff out of the way, let’s look at the crack pen and why it may be a powerful weapon in fighting the drug addiction crisis.
First, as the paper’s authors noted, drugs bought on the street aren’t regulated. That means those drugs are often adulterated with contaminants or other dangerous drugs, such as the often-lethal fentanyl. Their proposed crack pen would be loaded with only regulated, pharmaceutical-grade cocaine freebase, which is more commonly known as “crack.” While no addicted person should be puffing crack, if they’re going to puff crack anyway, it may as well be clean and contaminant-free. Furthermore, if such a pen was permitted in the US, it wouldn't be the first FDA-approved cocaine-based drug on the market, either.
Second, the crack pen can meter its doses. In other words, the addicted person will know that each puff guarantees a specified amount of crack entering their body. While that’s not a guarantee against overdose, it is an added layer of protection that could prevent a potential overdose.
Third, people struggling with addiction often avoid treatment services out of fear of being prosecuted for possessing an outlawed substance. Much like Narcan or other drugs that treat opioid overdoses, possession of a government-approved crack pen would avoid legal entanglements.
Fourth, the crack vape could prevent a condition known as “crack lung,” which may be caused by inhaling burning chunks of crack, the authors wrote. Since the crack vape would vaporize cocaine freebase at a set and relatively safe temperature, there would be no red-hot pieces of coke being inhaled.
Now, you’re probably thinking: How in the holy hell is smoking crack supposed to treat cocaine or meth addiction? That’s a fair question, because you’re right — the crack pen alone probably won’t break the habit. However, what Steinmetz and Stöver are proposing isn’t a cure for quitting cocaine, meth, or other stimulants of abuse. Rather, they’re proposing one tool to mitigate the risks associated with cocaine, meth, or other stimulant abuse.
Part of treating any drug addiction is to first mitigate any and all risks associated with the addiction. For instance, clean needle exchange programs are not a cure for heroin addiction. However, providing clean needles to those with heroin addictions will significantly lower their chances of contracting a bloodborne disease like HIV or from developing flesh-eating infections by sharing dirty needles. Giving those with addictions a safe space to deal with their cravings is one major step toward comprehensively treating their disease.
For those of you who subscribe to the likes of Tucker Carlson at the network tabloid Fox News, who may believe that risk mitigation programs like clean needle exchanges and safe injection sites are simply state-sanctioned, liberal-hippy fundings of drug use, well…. Consider that Tucker Carlson gets paid millions of dollars a year to talk shit in front of a camera (shit, by the way, he doesn’t even write himself — he has a team of writers who compose the words that he reads off a teleprompter).
Meanwhile, the guys who wrote this crack pen paper are Ph.Ds who have devoted their entire careers to studying, investigating, and understanding drug addiction and how to effectively treat it. The Tucker Carlsons of the world had their chance to try out their “tough on crime” policies that have done nothing but clog up our courts and prisons, destroyed and continue to destroy thousands of lives, and given rise to organized crime syndicates that will always stay in business so long as there’s an unwinnable “War on Drugs.”
It’s time we try a new approach to treating the drug addiction crisis worldwide. And it starts with kindness, empathy, forgiveness, and, quite possibly, vape pens loaded with crack.