President Donald Trump has begun rolling out new plans to tackle the country’s opioid crisis.
On March 18, Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, reported that plans to address the opioid crisis included stricter penalties for large drug traffickers, including the death penalty in some cases.
This news coming after Congress approved a 6 billion dollar budget to combat the epidemic. The plan reports a three pronged approach, according to Bremberg and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, including greater law enforcement teams, an educational advertising campaign to aide in treatment funding and agencies help to those fighting addiction.
President Trump has been outspoken about the concept of the death penalty with regard to drug traffickers in the past, but until recently there had been no formal administrative plan concerning the opioid crisis.
During the President’s latest rally in Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago, before this opioid crisis plan was discussed by his administration, President Trump spoke about his intentions of putting the death penalty on the table.
In his speech he stated, “A drug dealer will kill 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 people during the course of his or her life” without receiving the same punishment as a traditional murderer would.
This broad statistic used by President Trump was said in an attempt to rationalize such severe consequences for opioid users and dealers.
He concluded his speech, after giving the audience a basic understanding of potential laws and intentions, with “That means if we catch a drug dealer, death penalty.”
It should be said that the death penalty is actually already available for very limited drug-related offenses, like violations of the “drug kingpin” provisions of federal law.
I understand the concern over the opioid crisis in our country, as overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 1999 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, these new plans to address the crisis look more like scare tactics than anything else, especially when discussed with such severe terminology. President Trump seemingly misses the major problems of this epidemic by discussing it as if these issues only affect poor addicts and rich scheming dealers.
The reality of this disastrous opioid abuse is much more complex. It cannot be overlooked that large pharmaceutical companies play a part in opioid addiction through the production and pushing of such drugs.
Doctors with mal-intent looking to make a profit off of addicted patients in addition to these potentially unethical corporations pose a much bigger problem than a community’s local drug dealer.
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