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.


Trump’s Plan to Defeat Addiction is to Execute Drug Dealers.

February 26, 2018

The word in Trump World is that the big guy’s solution to drug addiction is to knock off the drug dealers. And there we were thinking all we needed was a wall. As he often does, he floated the idea as a joke. (From Axios) He often jokes about killing drug dealers… He’ll say, ‘You know […]

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Fighting a ‘War on Drugs’ Is Pointless. We Have to Fight a ‘War on Addiction’

October 30, 2017

At 3 AM on Sunday morning, Carlos Andrade 22, stepped outside of the family’s Brooklyn home to smoke a cigarette with his father Joseph Andrade, 44. An hour later both he and dad were dead from a heroin/fentanyl overdose. They are mourned by their family and friends, but to everyone else, they are just two more names in the list of […]

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Trump Declares a National Opioid Emergency. Now What?

August 10, 2017

Donald Trump declared opioids a national health emergency – but did so two days after his Secretary of HHS said that it was premature to do so. An administration about-face which raises questions about Trump’s sincerity – if Trump’s lack of follow through on everything wasn’t already enough to cause doubt. Add in the fact that […]

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Why Are We Addicted to Treating Addiction as a Crime?

March 20, 2017

What would be the best way to solve addiction in this country? You don’t know the answer? Or do you have the wrong answer? You are not alone. The architects of the “War on Drugs” are equally ignorant. A century ago we decided that drug addiction is a crime. Which is an odd – and unique […]

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Really? 5.13.15 – Denominals; Pot, Evolution & the Duggars; Iowa; Books & Bombers.

May 12, 2015

“People are never so completely and enthusiastically evil as when they act out of religious conviction” ― Umberto Eco. A ‘denominal’ is a verb that has been formed from a noun. This headline has an example: “Idaho teacher wishes someone would ‘Ray Rice’ non-Mormon who wants to be school president.” She has cleverly taken the […]

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Really? – 2.17.15. – Ignorance shouldn’t be contagious; Is money drowning politics?; Heroin’s new geography; Dr. Strangelove resurfaces in Arkansas.

February 16, 2015

Ignorance is a celebration. Anti-intellectualism is a badge worn by conservatives with pride. How many politicos do we need to hear say “I’m not a scientist” without consulting a scientist, before we suspect that ignorance is their shield? Kanye West has added his voice. I do not know West’s politics, but he is a soul mate […]

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The Stupidity of Supply-Siders.

October 14, 2014

“When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is usually the reputation of the business that remains intact.” – Warren Buffet. Life is full of transactions between those who have stuff – and those who want stuff. In economic terms, deals are struck between suppliers and […]

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Really? 7.7.14 It’s only bad when Obama does it; Perry ignores Jesus; Confused thinking on drugs; Is gluten-free baloney?

July 7, 2014

Republicans have short memories. John Boehner explains that the House will sue Obama for overstepping his bounds by taking executive actions. Never mind that Reagan did it, Bush I did it, Clinton did it and Bush II did it, when Obama does it it’s too much – why now? What seems illegal is that Democratic […]

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