President Donald Trump spelled out in new detail several steps he favoUrs to fight a US epidemic of opioid abuse, including the execution of drug dealers, a proposal that has gained little support from drug abuse and judicial experts.
At an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump unveiled an anti-opioid abuse plan, including his death penalty recommendation, new funding for other initiatives and stiffer sentencing laws for drug dealers.
He said the United States must “get tough” on opioids. “And that toughness includes the death penalty,” he said. Neither Trump nor the White House gave further details as to when it would be appropriate to seek the death penalty.
Trump said that he was working with Congress to find $6 billion in new funding for 2018 and 2019 to fight the opioid crisis. The plan will also seek to cut opioid prescriptions by a third over three years by changing federal programs, he said.
Addiction to opioids – mainly prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl – is a growing US problem, especially in rural areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016.
For Trump, the New Hampshire visit returned him to a state that gave him a key Republican primary election win when he was a political newcomer in 2016. Back then, he promised to tackle the opioid crisis, which is severe in the New England state.
In October, he declared the crisis a public health emergency, but without providing more money. Some critics, including Democratic lawmakers, said then that the declaration was meaningless without additional funds.
In Manchester, Trump stopped at a local fire station that helps addicts get treatment. He was greeted by roughly 200 protesters, some chanting “You talk, we die.”
Others carried signs, including one that read “Donald J Duterte,” a reference to the Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal crackdown on drugs has lead to thousands of deaths.