A harm reduction group in southeastern New Brunswick has introduced a vending machine, or an “interactive dispensing service,” allowing people to access meth pipes, hygiene products, naloxone and sanitizer.

Those are some of the services people can receive at Ensemble Moncton already, but now people can have 24/7 access, says executive director Debby Warren.

Warren says this certainly isn’t the answer to the drug problem, but it will help reduce the harm associated with substance use.

“Our service doesn’t encourage drug use… Our service is about reducing the harm because of substance use, primarily around HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne infections,” Warren says.

“People are using substances and it’s a very complex health issue,” she says. “And by denying them these resources, we put them at even greater harms and risks and deteriorates their health.”

The new technology offers everything that’s offered inside Ensemble Moncton, which also includes clean needles, condoms and face masks.

The goal is to keep people safe while taking part in activities they would anyway, such as sexual encounters and substance use.

“Is it the answer to drug use? Absolutely it’s not,” Warren says. “But it helps to keep people safe and healthy while we work towards the health services that they require.”

The machine also has educational videos on safe substance use, COVID-19 precautions and a directory of local community services.