President Donald Trump vowed to get tough on the opioid epidemic, even proposing the death penalty for some of the worst drug traffickers.
“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time,” he said at an event in New Hampshire. “That toughness includes the death penalty.”
Trump praised unnamed foreign leaders who had “zero tolerance” for drug dealers, which they argued helped them prevent drug problems.
“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.
Trump also criticized Democrats for opposing his proposed wall on the Southern border.
“Ninty percent of the heroin in America comes from our southern border, where eventually the Democrats will agree with us, and we’ll build the wall to keep the damn drugs out,” he said, prompting chants of “build that wall” in the room.
The president criticized sanctuary city policies for allowing illegal immigrants and drug dealers to remain in the country. He called on Congress to end funding for sanctuary cities.
“If we are not going to get tough on the drug dealers who kill thousands of people and destroy so many people’s lives, we are just doing the wrong thing,” he said. “We have got to get tough.”
Trump specifically vowed to empower law enforcement to crack down on the supply of drugs, including prescription drug reforms targeting doctors and drug companies.
“I love tough guys, we need tough guys,” Trump said, pointing out an ICE agent in the audience.
The audience in New Hampshire cheered Trump’s proposed solutions, many of them wearing red Make America Great Again campaign hats in support of the president.
The president also announced a plan to create more advertisements to “scare” young people away from opioid addiction, much like cigarette advertisements.
“The best way to beat the drug crisis is to keep people from getting hooked on drugs to begin with,” he said.
He promised that the Department of Justice was considering a federal lawsuit against some of the drug companies who manufacture opioids. Trump also announced plans to provide narcan to first responders in areas devastated by opioid addiction. Narcan helps block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose situations.
“I want to win this battle, I don’t want to leave at the end of seven years and have this problem,” Trump said.