NO MASK – Get free Booze, Pot and Smokes!

San Francisco officials deny direct involvement in a controversial program, funded by private sources, that provides free alcohol, cannabis, and cigarettes to homeless people living in the city’s hotels during the Covid-19 outbreak. After news about the special deliveries was leaked and caused embarrassment on social media, the city’s Department of Public Health issued a statement claiming that “rumors that guests of San Francisco’s alternative housing program are receiving taxpayer-funded deliveries of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco are false.”

Except they’re not false. DPH, which administers and oversees the program, is staffed by city workers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, and security personnel. The department manages, stores, and distributes the substances. Employee time is involved. Thus, the program is financed by taxpayers, even if an outside group provides some of the funding. According to DPH spokesperson Jenna Lane, the philanthropists who helped purchase the substances wish to remain anonymous.

The program’s primary purpose is to keep homeless people, the majority of whom are addicts, out of harm’s way during the pandemic. By getting their substance of choice delivered, the thinking goes, the guests may be more apt to remain in their government-funded rooms. Another purpose of the program is to protect the public against the spread of coronavirus. The city doesn’t want homeless people who should be staying in their rooms roaming the neighborhood in search of the substances, potentially infecting others.

“Managed alcohol and tobacco use makes it possible to increase the number of guests who stay in isolation and quarantine and, notably, protects the health of people who might otherwise need hospital care for life-threatening alcohol withdrawal,” says Lane.

Lane concedes that the provision of substances is not necessarily meant to save people from dangerous, unsupervised detoxification. The homeless are screened to determine what substances they would prefer to have on hand and might be uncomfortable without. “Many isolation and quarantine guests tell us they use these substances daily,” says Lane,

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