President Trump gave an impassioned speech Monday announcing tougher measures in the fight against opioids, and broaching the possibility of instituting the death penalty for some drug dealers.
“If you break the law and illegally peddle these deadly poisons, we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will hold you accountable,” the president said at an event in New Hampshire, a state particularly devastated by the opioid crisis.
“And that toughness includes the death penalty,” he added to cheers from the crowd. “Maybe our country is not ready for that. It’s possible.”
The White House’s newly announced plan focuses on stiffening penalties for drug dealers as well taking steps to prevent people from getting addicted in the first place and increasing federal funding to help addicts get a second chance. The president said he wants to see solutions to the “general drug crisis” as well as the problems caused by opioids.
“Some of these drug dealers will kill thousands of people during their lifetime…and they’ll get caught and they’ll get 30 days in jail or they’ll go away for a year or they’ll be fined,” he told the crowd, pointing out that a murderer who shoots only one person can get life in prison or the death penalty.
“This isn’t about ‘nice’ anymore. This isn’t about committees. This isn’t about let’s get everybody and have dinners and let’s have everybody go to a blue-ribbon committee and everybody gets a medal for frankly talking and doing nothing,” Trump said. “We can have all the blue-ribbon committees we want, but if we don’t get tough on the drug dealers we’re wasting our time. Just remember that. We’re wasting our time.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016.
Some of the concrete steps the administration said it will take include increasing federal funding for non-addictive painkillers as well as shutting down illegal online marketplaces. The Department of Justice will also look into suing drug companies that may be guilty of misleading buyers about the risks of addiction.
The least expensive measure is a “large-scale rollout of commercials” showing the deadly effects of opioids and other drugs, the president said. A new website, www.crisisnextdoor.gov, will provide a way for the public to share stories about addiction.
The federal government will also help those who have been in prison on drug charges find jobs and get back on their feet.
The president connected the issue to immigration in New Hampshire, blasting sanctuary-city policies and Democrats’ opposition to the southern border wall that was his signature campaign promise.
“Eventually the Democrats will agree with us and we’ll build the wall to keep the damn drugs out,” he said. “We will defeat this crisis, we will protect our beautiful children.”