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Unveiling a long-awaited plan to combat the national scourge of opioid drug addiction, President Donald Trump called Monday for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including embracing a tactic employed by some of the global strongmen he admires: the death penalty.
The plan does not propose any new legislation but rather relies more on the president's office to combat the opioid crisis. That would be higher on the list than the death penalty for drug dealers. In 2017, one of the country's largest distributors, McKesson Corp, faced fines from the Justice Department for flooding small town pharmacies in the most affected areas of the opioid crisis with excessively large orders of prescription drugs. "This is about winning a very, very tough problem and if we don't get very tough on these dealers it's not going to happen folks ..."
The first lady even weighed in on behalf of her husband, saying, "I'm proud of this administration's commitment to battling this epidemic". Trump's proposal doesn't seem to ask for an expansion of this policy, but the enforcement of it.
The president's plan also calls for expanded research into less-addictive pain killers and efforts to reduce the over-prescribing of opioids.
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Moss did not respond when asked twice if Baker had been invited to attend the president's announcement in neighboring New Hampshire on Monday. The president has discussed opioids repeatedly, including during a summit earlier this month, and has created a commission to tackle the issue.
"Unless you have really, really powerful penalties, led by the death penalty for the really bad pushers and abusers, we are going to get nowhere", he said. "And we will raise a drug-free generation of children. It's possible ... and I can understand it", he said, later disagreeing with himself and stating, "Although personally I can't understand that". What we need are more humane, effective and evidence-based policies, to better protect public health and human rights. "We will not incarcerate or execute our way out of the opioid epidemic".
Trump lamented that under the current law, a dealer could sell a drug that could kill thousands during their lifetime but only receive a short prison sentence. Neither Trump nor the White House gave further details as to when it would be appropriate to seek the death penalty. "That's because the opioid epidemic was made in America, not in Mexico, China, or any other foreign country". "But the ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty".
It is not clear if the death penalty, even for traffickers whose product causes multiple deaths, would be constitutional. Doug Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, predicted the issue would be litigated all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Dick Durbin of IL, who said "we can't arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic" and noted that "the war on drugs didn't work in the '80s". According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. He announced a new website, www.crisisnextdoor.gov, where members of the public can share stories about the dangers of opioid addiction.
But Trump's impressive victory in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary launched him on the path to the GOP nomination.