Trump to unveil plans against opioid epidemic

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Washington, March 19 (IANS) US President Donald Trump will unveil new plans to tackle the country’s opioid epidemic on Monday, the White House said.

The plan will include stiffer penalties for high-intensity drug traffickers, including the death penalty, CNN quoted Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, as saying on Sunday evening.

According to Bremberg and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s long-awaited plan will focus on three areas: law enforcement and interdiction, prevention and education through a sizable advertising campaign; improving the ability to fund treatment through the federal government; and help those impacted by the epidemic to find jobs while fighting addiction.

Congress has approved $6 billion to combat the epidemic and a senior official told CNN that Trump’s plan will lay out how the administration believes that money should be spent.

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The concept of the death penalty for certain drug traffickers is something Trump has been outspoken about, but this will be the first time it will be part of an official administration plan.

“The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it’s appropriate under current law,” Bremberg said.

Trump called for the death penalty to drug dealers earlier this month at a rally in Pennsylvania, CNN reported.

His plan is expected to focus on sentencing reforms for drug dealers that would stiffen penalties for high-intensity drug dealers while “other people languishing in prison for these low-level drug crimes”, the senior official said.

“The President thinks that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” he said, adding that these penalties would be for dealers who bring large quantities of opioids — particular fentanyl — into the country, not the people that are “are growing pot (marijuana) in the backyard or a friend who has a low-level possession crime”.

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The plan was still being reviewed and subject to change.

–IANS

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