“public health” vending machine,
© Gregory P. Mango
The city’s first “public health” vending machine in Brooklyn was cleaned out of its free crack pipes, drug-testing strips and other paraphernalia overnight after being installed in Brownsville on Monday.
City officials' new drug-themed vending machine is a huge hit with local addicts — who wasted no time cleaning it out overnight as they stocked up on its free crack pipes, lip balm and Narcan.

"Yes, I love it," drug user Evelyn Williams told The Post while standing at the "public health" vending machine in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on Tuesday. "They put it in yesterday, and it's empty already.

By 1 p.m., a drug-prevention-program worker was starting to restock the machine with more drug-test strips, Narcan and condoms — predicting the vending machine could need to be refilled "maybe twice a day, depending on which items go quite quickly.''

"We have a lot of addicts and heroin users over here," Williams said. "They should re-stock it immediately!"

Self-described crack smoker Minoshi Calpe, 56, had walked away with the second-to-last product in the vending machine — a fentanyl test strip — around 11 a.m. while sniffing that the glass used for the free pipes might not be up to her standards.

"I like the Pyrex because it's a little thicker,'' she said, also lamenting that "you can't even sell that [vending stuff] because the programs give you all that stuff" already for free.

"The crack pipes are a little too thin now," explained Calpe, who said she has six children and nine grandchildren. "And every time I pull on [the newer ones], it was burning my lips. I was like, 'Hell, no! I like my lips too much for this.'

"I do my little crack here and there," Caple said. "I smoke my pipe, and I smoke weed. I don't lace none of my stuff with stuff."

She then held up her fentanyl test strip, and said while laughing, "I'm trying to get high, not die" before dancing off down the street.

Another man who rode by the depleted vending machine on a bicycle simply gave the thumb's up to a reporter and shouted, "Yeah!"

Elan Quashie, the drug-prevention worker, had not replenished the vending machine's supply of pipes by late afternoon, although he restocked some of its other products.

"We got a lot of positive feedback from some individuals that actually used the machine, and I think they were pleased to know that the items were actually free," he said. "So with that being said, you know, we had an idea that a lot of selections will go very quickly.

"Happy that it did."

At one point, a resident stopped by to grab one of the fentanyl-testing strips that were being replenished.

"I want to make sure the s-t ain't fenty before I use it," he said. "I want to test what I buy first so I know what it is."

The machine, installed in the drug-infested neighborhood Monday, is the first of four new contraptions set to provide a slew of drug-themed items to the community gratis, including drug-smoking kits complete with pipes, mouthpieces and lip balm, the overdose-reversing drug Narcan and fentanyl-detecting strips, as well as various odd items such as condoms, tampons and nicotine gum.

Future machines also may include syringes used to inject heroin and other drugs, said city Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Ashwin Vasan at a Monday press conference unveiling the vending device.

The city says the idea is to help keep drug users safer with clean supplies and help curb soaring overdose deaths.

But the endeavor doesn't sit well with some locals and pols.

Early Tuesday morning — after less than a day open for business — the only items left in the previously chockful machine were a single Narcan overdose-reversing kit and two drug-testing strips.

"Thank God," Williams said of the machine. "I've never OD'd, but two people in my house OD'd this year back-to-back, and I used Narcan, and they both lived.

"Two years ago, someone died in my house," she said. "I thought he was sleeping, man. He was snoring. He OD'd, but I didn't know it."

The machines cost $11,000 each before being stocked. The drug paraphernalia and other items in them are free, with patrons needing only to punch in a zip code to get what they want.

But the endeavor doesn't sit well with some local pols.

"Our city should not be commodifying addiction, and anyone supporting these vending machines should be ashamed of themselves," City Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Queens) raged to The Post on Tuesday.

"The money the Health Department is spending on these machines — which are providing, among other things, free crack pipes to drug-addicted individuals — should be spent on rehabilitation and social services to actually help addicts rather than on items like these which only encourage their addiction," she said.

A Brownsville passer-by also gave the program a thumb's down.

"That shouldn't be there!" the man yelled. "I don't care what the f-k you put in there! You're better off moving that and putting an ambulance in there!"

An anonymous critic wrote on the ground nearby, "Poor Choices."

The controversial machine also seems to be a departure for Mayor Eric Adams, who campaigned in 2021 as an anti-drug candidate opposed to legalizing dangerous drugs.

"I don't support legalizing crack cocaine," Adams said during a debate with then-mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang. "It's devastating when you see what it does. I don't support the legalization of heroin. I don't support the legalization of those serious drugs at all."

Still, earlier this year, the Adams administration also announced it hoped to have five "safe" drug injection sites operating in the city by 2025 so drug users can shoot up without fear of arrest.

There are already two injection sites at nonprofit centers in Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan, with future locations expected in other drug-plagued communities like the South Bronx.

Officials at City Hall did not respond to a Post request for comment Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan