Trump calls for death penalty for drug dealers but says country might not be ready

Trump said other countries with "zero tolerance" don't have drug problems.

“Although personally, I can't understand that,” he continued.

“You take a look at some of these countries where they don’t play games,” he said, not mentioning any by name. “They don’t have a drug problem.”

"We can have all the blue ribbon committees we want," Trump said, "but if we don't get tough on drug dealers, we are wasting our time."

As he talked about punishing drug dealers, a woman yelled out from the audience: “What about compassion?” Trump seemed to not hear it or ignore it.

A White House release on Trump's initiative said the Justice Department would seek the death penalty, "where appropriate under current law," against those convicted of dealing and trafficking in fentanyl and other opioids. Some experts have questioned whether the move would have much impact.

Trump's wife Melania introduced him saying she'd seen the effect of the "crisis" first-hand when visiting hospitals and treatment centers.

"I'm proud of this administration's effort to end this epidemic," she said.

While Trump's speech took place in 2018, it was in many ways a throwback to the 1980s when the “Just Say No” campaign was a leading effort to combat the nation’s drug problem. The president said it’s time again to scare kids away from drugs through a well-funded commercial campaign.

“It's the least expensive thing we can do, where you scare them from ending up like the people in the commercials. And will make them very, very bad commercials. Will make them pretty unsavory situations,” he said.

Trump also related the opioid crisis to immigration, saying he will work to end sanctuary city policies and accusing Democrats of stonewalling progress on DACA because they want to stop construction of the border wall. There was a short chant of “Build the wall!”

“They don't want to go with DACA because they don't care about DACA, but they're trying to tie the wall to DACA and DACA to the wall,” he said.

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