Trump and Company Miss the Mark on Opiate Task Force
As with many issues, it’s difficult to tell exactly where President Trump stands. The opioid problem is no exception to that general rule. Given that Trump has no previous voting record, there is no way to do a balance sheet to see if words match actions. Trump, has often sounded compassionate about addiction, self-disclosing the loss of his brother to alcohol. Many of the profoundly red communities who hope Trump is their spokesman and savior have been decimated by overdoses. Local hospitals are overwhelmed; families are left in the bewilderment that comes with addiction and the grief that comes with a battle lost. One of his campaign promises was to address this issue. Trump, in fact, often rationalized the southern boarder wall to “stop the flow of drugs”. Before his election, it was hard to see where Trump stood on the drug issue, its taking shape now.
The first indication of Trumps true feelings regarding drug users was the appointment of Jeff Sessions. Sessions inflammatory statements regarding cannabis use show how out of touch his is and how removed he is from rethinking addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. Despite new research and millions of Americans benefitting from the relief provided by medical cannabis, Sessions has resurrected the fear over facts mission to take down cannabis users. “good people don’t smoke marijuana” crows Sessions. Session has eluded to enforcing federal marijuana laws which would increase incarcerations and violence in communities. Is there a mitigating factor? Not really, Sessions is from Alabama a state that hovers around illiterate, too fat to walk around wal mart, and dying of lung cancer. Sessions, a drinker, is a strange person from which to take advice on cannabis.
Last week President Trump announced his task force to fight the opiate epidemic. It was void of compassion and heavy on “law enforcement”. This sets drug policy back, yet again, framing drug use as “crime” not health. Of all the absurdities, perhaps the most insulting is the appointment of Chris Christie to head the effort. While Christie has made, some compassionate statements regarding addiction, his mindset is “criminal justice”. Christie staked his claim and often touts his record in his previous career with the justice department. He isn’t a doctor or a public health official he is a self-proclaimed “tough on crime governor”. His state is hardly any example of how to deal with the overdose problem. Ironically, the states who should be asked about their policy are viewed as pariahs and treated as lepers because the states with the lowest rates of overdose have access to medicinal marijuana. The data is clear, one of the things that works is access to medical cannabis and in Trumpland, that’s a crime.
Contradiction and confusion aside we can now look at what Trump does rather than trying to decode what he says. What he is doing with drug policy is keeping it in the crime silo. Proven ineffective and dangerous, don’t look for the overdose death rate to drop anytime soon, not while Christie is steering the ship. The ship is more likely to sink, and no, that’s not a fat joke.
Author: Joe Schrank, Editor in Chief