As the United States continues to struggle with an opioid addiction crisis, President Donald Trump plans to get the federal government involved to help find a solution. To be officially announced later today, a new program from the administration will implement tougher laws on drug traffickers, dedicate more money to treatment programs, and set an initiative to create ad campaigns that encourage opioid alternatives.
According to a CNN report, President Trump will unveil the new plan at an event in New Hampshire, a state particularly hard hit by the opioid crisis. In recent months, the president has shown concern about the record number of drug overdoses and believes the nation must toughen up its policy on opioid abuse.
As part of the increased toughness agenda, the plan will open up the possibility of some convicted drug dealers receiving a death penalty sentence instead of just jail time. Specifics of which cases would warrant the death penalty have yet to be released.
“The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it’s appropriate under current law,” said Andrew Bremberg, director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, as cited by Reuters.
Speaking at an event in Pennsylvania earlier this month, President Trump first mentioned the idea of handing down a death sentence to some drug traffickers. The president told the raucous crowd that drug dealers are responsible for thousands of deaths related to the illegal drug trade and capital punishment is what they should get.
Drug laws related to possession will also be tightened under Trump’s plan. Mandatory minimum sentences will be updated to include anyone illegally possessing a minor amount of certain opioids, like fentanyl, because of their potent ability to kill even in small doses.
While they may not be put to death, doctors, pharmacies, and manufacturers will also be facing new harsher penalties as well. Under the opioid plan, the Department of Justice will aggressively pursue action against pill vendors and makers that break the law.
With $6 billion already approved by Congress to fight the opioid crisis, new advertising campaigns will also be funded to educate individuals about possible opioid alternatives. Some money will also go to improve drug addiction treatment centers.
President Trump’s plan to directly attack the opioid epidemic will likely be reviewed and changed before it is fully applied. Nonetheless, with an estimated 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016 related to opioid addiction, the president’s proposal will hopefully be a huge step toward reducing this number.