Trump opioid plan to include increased treatment, harsher penalties

By Ray Downs  |  March 19, 2018 at 1:38 AM
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March 19 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Monday will unveil a plan to combat the opioid epidemic that will include increased funds for treatment and harsher sentences for drug traffickers.

One of the major components of the plan will be the pursuance of the death penalty against drug traffickers.

Current law allows the death penalty to be used for crimes under provisions 18 USC 3591(b) and 21 USC 848(e). Under Trump's plan, the Justice Department will be encouraged to pursue those penalties.

"The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it's appropriate under current law," Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters Sunday.

Trump's plan will also ask Congress to pass legislation that lowers the amount of illegal drugs needed to invoke federal mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers "who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids that are lethal in trace amounts," The Hill reported.

The current amount of heroin to trigger a federal mandatory minimum sentence is 1 kilogram.

On the treatment side, Trump will ask Congress to change a 50-year-old rule that restricts Medicaid from being used to pay for drug treatment in certain large facilities. The rule was originally implemented to prevent mass institutionalization of people with mental illness, Politico reported. But it has since become a barrier for people who need financial assistance to get addiction treatment.

Bremberg and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump's plan will also include an advertising campaign to increase awareness about opioid addiction and assistance in finding employment for people battling addiction, among other initiatives.

"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," Conway told reporters.

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