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Trump opioid plan includes death penalty for drug dealers 'where it's appropriate'

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

March 19. 2018 11:33AM
President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Oct. 13, 2017. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo)
Watch it live
White House officials plan to livestream Trump's remarks in Manchester, tentatively scheduled to start at 2:40 p.m. It can be viewed at www.whitehouse.gov/live/.



Map showing trends in Opioid overdose in the U.S.

MANCHESTER — President Donald Trump will unveil a plan to combat opioid drug addiction that includes stiffer penalties for drug dealers — including the death penalty “where it’s appropriate under current law” — during a visit to New Hampshire on Monday afternoon.

During a conference call with reporters Sunday night, senior White House officials said the President wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the threshold amount of drugs that must be present before mandatory minimum sentences are triggered for traffickers who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids.

Asked for examples of cases warranting the death penalty, a senior White House official declined comment, referring the topic to the Department of Justice.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will travel to Manchester on Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and several cabinet members to discuss the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse during remarks at Manchester Community College, scheduled to be delivered at 2:40 p.m.

The President is also expected to visit Manchester Central Fire Station on Merrimack Street on Monday, though White House sources said they could not confirm that portion of Trump’s itinerary for security reasons.

The plan includes three main pieces: reducing the over-prescription of, and demand for, opioids; cutting off the supply of illegal drugs inside the U.S. and crossing the country’s borders; and increasing the number of treatment and recovery services available.

“The opioid crisis is viewed by us at the White House as a nonpartisan problem searching for bipartisan solutions, and the Trump administration remains committed to fighting this epidemic from all fronts,” said Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the President, during a conference call with reporters Sunday night.

Conway will accompany Trump and the first lady to Manchester, the couple’s first trip to the Granite State since attending a rally at the SNHU Arena on Nov. 7, 2016, the night before the general election.

Prescription tracking

The Trump administration wants to cut opioid prescriptions by one-third within three years. Its “Safer Prescribing Plan” would offer states incentives to take part in a national database monitoring opioid prescriptions. Such a program, officials said, would highlight individuals requesting many prescriptions.

During Sunday’s call with reporters, a senior White House official called out the Obama administration, arguing that it insufficiently prosecuted traffickers.

“The prior administration did not prioritize enforcing the laws related to drugs,” the official said. “I think that’s been directly attributable to the rise and increase of fentanyl and the resulting overdose deaths.”

Trump convened an opioid commission last year, which introduced its final recommendations on how to curb the epidemic on Nov. 1.

According to Andrew Bremberg, the White House’s director of the Domestic Policy Council, the Opioid Initiative will “expand access to evidence-based addiction treatment in every state, particularly medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, and seek legislative changes to the law prohibiting Medicaid from reimbursing residential treatment at certain facilities with more than 16 beds.”

The plan would also provide addiction treatment to service members, veterans and their families eligible for health care through the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.

After the Trump visit, cabinet officials will be deployed across more than 15 states to “provide and address solutions to this nationwide crisis,” according to a White House source.

The President’s appearance at MCC is an invitation-only event, with over 250 community members, law enforcement officials, first responders and local families affected by the opioid crisis.

Among state and local officials expected to attend are Gov. Chris Sununu, Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan and Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard.

pfeely@unionleader.com




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