But in line with his emphasis on law enforcement rather than treatment, President Donald Trump is on to something new when it comes to addressing the opioid crisis: capital punishment for dealers.
“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty — the ultimate penalty,” Trump said at a White House summit on the opioid crisis. “And, by the way, they have much less of a problem.”
“If you shoot one person, you get life in prison,” he added. “These people kill 1,000, 2,000 people and nothing happens to them.”
If those words sound familiar, it might be because this is how the authoritarian leader of the Philippines talks. President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen the execution of some 12,000 suspected drug dealers and users, and Trump called Duterte last April to voice his admiration:
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump said to Duterte on a phone call last year. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Though hearing the words might be jarring, it should come as no surprise that Trump would advocate capital punishment for dealers: he has made no secret of his preference for law enforcement solutions as opposed to treatment and prevention measures.
As he said in his first State of the Union address, “We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.”