Trump Takes a Nixonian Approach to Drug Addiction.

by Pitt Griffin on March 20, 2018 · 0 comments

in Drugs, Trump presidency

Trump went to New Hampshire today to tell Granite Staters that the solution to the drug epidemic is the death penalty for drug dealers. Which is a typical piece of Trump marketing. It’s splashy. It gets headlines. And it is useless. Drug dealers already work in a business where death is a fact of life. And for every dealer sitting on death row, there would be scores lining up to take his job.

Looked at from the addict’s point of view, killing the supplier does nothing to treat his addiction. The math is simple. If people want something, they can get hold of it. And no one wants something more than a drug addict does. If Prohibition did not illustrate the futility of trying to decrease demand by restricting supply, then surely a $2 trillion, 48-year failure of the War on Drugs must do so.

And let’s ask ourselves if the roots of the opioid crisis lie in the illegal drug trade.

Hardly. Opioid addiction is in large part due to the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to push powerfully addictive painkillers. If Trump is serious about the death penalty, he will point that weapon at the boardroom dealers who are as responsible for the drug deaths as any street dealer.

The chart to the right tells the story. From 2000 to 2010 the rate of opioid deaths skyrocketed. And during that time almost all of the increase was due to ‘commonly prescribed opioids’. From 2010 to 2015 the level of prescription opioid deaths has held steady while deaths from heroin and synthetics have gone through the roof.

The message is clear. The opioid epidemic was caused by legal drugs promoted by companies as profit-hungry as any drug boss. And while law enforcement has cracked down on legal drug abuse, those drugs still account for as many deaths as they did in 2010. And even as the crackdown on legal medications has capped their devastation, illegal drug use has continued to drive drug deaths yet higher.

Now synthetic opioids have taken over as the leading cause of opioid deaths, and their mortality rate is increasing.

In his New Hampshire speech, Trump checked all the conservative boxes. He pushed for his pointless wall. He beat up on the Democrats. He slammed ‘sanctuary cities’. He said that MS-13 liked to use knives because it was more painful for the victim than a gun. (Confusing the audience.) He said he liked ‘tough guys’.

I didn’t keep a stopwatch on it. But I estimate that Trump spent 50% of his speech talking tough on drug dealers, 10% on the death penalty, 20% on his wall & sanctuary cities, 10% on first responders 5% on the election, and 5% on treating addiction.

And he then added that he would get ‘right to try’ approved and he said some good stuff about preparing released felons for a job. Which I agree with. It’s too bad it was said by a man who is incapable of keeping his word.

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