Crack pipe vending machines installed in Vancouver, Canada

A one-of-a-kind vending machine is being used in Vancouver, Canada.

It's not a cigarette machine. Those were outlawed long ago. And it doesn't dispense snacks either.

According to Kailin See, with the Drug Users Resource Center, "This is a crack pipe vending machine located in the downtown eastside."

Two almost cartoonish-looking machines are located in one of Vancouver's poorest neighborhoods.
For 25 cents, to cover costs, a shatter proof pipe can be bought. Rubber mouth pieces and filters are provided for free.

Those behind the program say it's about keeping addicts safe.

"They're (pipes) so expensive and scarce people are using them until they're broken and jagged and cutting their lips and passing pipe to someone else, spreading hepatitis or in rare cases HIV that way," said Mariner Janes the manager of PHS needle exchange program.

The approach echoes that of North America's only medically supervised safe injection site also in Vancouver's downtown east side, and run by the same non-profit publicly funded group behind the vending machines.

For ten years "Insite" has provided users with a place to shoot up as well as the needles but not the drugs. Although the federal government tried to shut it down the Supreme Court of Canada sided with the clinic.

"It's just is stupid and it's a waste of money and it's part of an ongoing continuum that we specialize in here," says David Berner, the Executive Director of the Drug Prevention Network Of Canada.

Berner says the vending machines will only enable users. "Totally, totally, they're saying this is a good thing, this is an okay thing."

Those behind the machines aren't apologizing. They'd like to them installed in other cities.

"I'd like to see this kind of idea go all over the place," Janes says.