PRESIDENT Donald Trump announced new steps to combat the opioid addiction epidemic on Monday, pressing for “toughness” in punishing drug dealers — even if it means sentencing them to death.
“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time,” Trump told the crowd, some of whom shouted “yes!” in response to his statement, “That toughness includes the death penalty.”
Beyond harsher penalties for dealing and trafficking, including capital punishment for some offenses, the administration’s new opioids plan includes funding educational campaigns in an attempt to reduce demand for drugs, promoting alternative medical treatment methods — with Trump calling for more research into options that are “not so addictive” — and combating the flow of drugs with increased border security.
Building the wall along the southern border with Mexico will also “keep the damn drugs out,” Trump said, blasting Democrats for linking negotiations about the fate of the Dreamers with the border, a top administration priority.
But the president also targeted China as a source of the deadly drug fentanyl, letting the crowd know that he told both China and Mexico “don’t send it.” While the plan earned Trump, who declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency last year, big applause from those gathered here, the reception on Capitol Hill is likely to be far less enthusiastic.
Administration officials also have been unable to provide specific figures for funding levels want Congress to allocate, saying those conversations are ongoing. In the short term, $6 billion will go to combating the opioid epidemic in 2018.
Monday’s trip was the president’s first to the Granite State since the 2016 election, though advisers denied the event in the first primary state was intended to serve as an early stop in Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.