President Trump revealed a new plan to fight America’s opioid crisis on Monday and his message was clear: drug dealers and big pharma beware.
In 2017, Trump declared the opioid epidemic sweeping through American cities a national health crisis. The president revealed plans to tackle the problem this week in New Hampshire, a state that’s knows the dangers of addiction all too well.
Essentially, his plan calls for much stiffer penalties for drug traffickers and different criteria for mandatory minimum sentences. More specifically, he wants to lower the quantity of drugs required to trigger a mandatory sentence. Citing drug policies in countries such as Singapore and the Philippines, Trump suggested that the U.S. is too easy on people who deal drugs. He noted that while killing one person can result in the death penalty, drug dealers kill thousands with few consequences.
“Drug traffickers kill so many thousands of our citizens every year,” the president said. “That’s why my Department of Justice will be seeking so many tougher penalties than we’ve ever had… and that penalty is going to be the death penalty.”
As the law stands now, the federal death penalty is applicable to several drug-related offenses including violations of the “drug kingpin” provision. The federal statute targets large-scale drug traffickers responsible for long-term and expansive drug conspiracies.
Targeting Big Pharma
Additionally, President Trump said the federal government will join states in suing pharmaceutical companies that contribute to the opioid crisis. “I keep saying, ‘If the states are doing it, why isn’t the federal government doing it?'” Trump said.
Following the speech, Attorney General Jeff Sessions backed Trump’s call for the death penalty for dealers. Sessions vowed to seek a death sentence “whenever appropriate” against drug pushers.
“Drug dealers show no respect for human dignity and put their own greed ahead of the safety and even the lives of others,” he said in a statement.
In addition to the death penalty and higher mandatory minimums, Trump plans to increase funding for treatment and prevention. He also announced a new website, crisisnextdoor.gov, where people can share their stories of addiction and recovery.
Trump hopes to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions by 30% over the next three years.