NYC launches first “safe drug vending machine” filled with Narcan, fentanyl strips and condoms – crack pipes ran out in first 24 hours
By Ethan Huff // Jun 11, 2023

To help area residents avoid fatal overdoses, New York City's Services for the Under Served has installed its first "safe drug vending machine" near a street corner in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn.


The machine, which is free to anyone who punches in the right zip code, offers fentanyl testing strips, Narcan (an overdose-reversing drug), condoms, tampons, nicotine gum, first aid kits, sanitary pads, vitamin C, covid tests, and "safer smoking kits" containing a heavy stem, mouthpiece, pusher, six screens, chore filter, and lip balm for people wanting to smoke crack.

Within the first 24 hours of being operational, the machine was drained bare of just about everything except for a couple remaining fentanyl test strips. The rest of the items – and especially the crack pipes – disappeared very quickly.

Elan Quashie, the Opioid Overdose Program Director at Services for the Under Served, told the media that his group plans to restock the vending machine at least once a day, and likely "multiple times per day" once they figure out the level of need in the area.

"I knew they would go," Quashie said about how quickly the items were taken once the machine first became operational.

(Related: In 2016, Arizona State University [ASU] installed an ATM-like drug vending machine on campus for 24-hour student access to quick fixes.)

Brooklyn locals have mixed feelings about the presence of safe drug vending machines

Each tray in the machine holds between 13 and 18 products, all of which are free to the public. Taxpayers, meanwhile, paid $11,000 for the machine itself, as well as any additional costs for the products.

If all goes well, the plan is to install many more of these free vending machines throughout New York City. At least with these in place, people with addiction will have safe access to the products they desire, and the fentanyl testing strips especially will help them determine if their drugs are legitimate.

"We got a lot of positive feedback from people, and they were happy to see that it was free," Quashie says about the reception since launch. "So, we had an idea that some of the selections were going so quickly."

When asked about the restock schedule, Quashie estimated that perhaps the machine will need to be restocked twice daily "depending on what items are going more quickly than others."

"Hopefully all items go at equal speed," he added. "Give it another week and we'll have some trends."

While some local residents have already expressed opposition to the vending machine, noting that it is located right next to the resource building where locals with drug addictions can enter to get the same supplies for free.

"That shouldn't be here," one disgruntled resident said about the vending machine. "The resource building is right here."

"That is not resources," this person added. "You are better off moving that gate and parking an ambulance right there."

On the other hand, Bushwick local Minoshi Caple, 56, expressed excitement about the machine because she says she knows people who need these items who can now access them more easily.

"People are just trying to get high – they're not trying to die," she said. "We need this! Somebody was out here doing their thing. I'm going to help and assist them [drug users] with it. That's what we do: help each other."

"I had to stay out here to make sure she was okay. Everything is bootleg now. The drugs aren't real anymore, and it doesn't even burn right. Why are we smoking that anymore?" Caple added.

To learn more about the harrowing impact of addiction, visit

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