President Trump has been saying privately and, increasingly, in public speeches that he wants capital punishment for drug dealers, and that idea has made it into the latest draft of his plan to fight America's opioid crisis, Politico reports. The wide-ranging plan, which could be announced as soon as Monday, combines drug treatment and prevention options with ramped-up law enforcement measures, including the death penalty in "certain cases where opioid, including fentanyl-related, drug dealing and trafficking are directly responsible for death." It also envisions a new Justice Department task force to monitor internet sales of opioids and crack down on negligent doctors and pharmacies.
The plan, as currently written, gives first responders increased access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone, asks Congress to allow Medicaid to pay for in-treatment addiction care, and urges states to use a national drug prescription database, among other things. The proposals cost much more than Trump has budgeted and Congress would likely approve, Politico says, and the plan promises to cut opioid prescriptions by a third within three years and fulfill Trump's promise to "stop opioid abuse."
The part about executing drug dealers is, to say the least, controversial. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) endorsed the idea Thursday afternoon. "I'm all in on the capital punishment side for those offenses that would warrant that," he told Politico. "Including drug cases. Yep." Democrats and public health advocates dismissed the proposal and disagreed with the wisdom and efficacy of declaring a new "war on drugs," and several Republicans were skeptical, too. "I mean, I get the message he's delivering: We've got to treat it seriously," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), but she doesn't support capital punishment for drug cases. "I don't see that that's going to solve the problem."