Donald Trump wants to not only reverse Obama's sentencing reforms on drug dealers, he wants the death penalty for drug traffickers as well.
In Singapore, the death penalty is mandatory for drug trafficking offenses. And President Trump loves it. He’s been telling friends for months that the country’s policy to execute drug traffickers is the reason its drug consumption rates are so low.
"He says that a lot," said a source who's spoken to Trump at length about the subject. "He says, 'When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] 'No. Death penalty'."
But the president doesn't just joke about it. According to five sources who've spoken with Trump about the subject, he often leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers and should all get the death penalty.
Trump tells confidants a softer approach to drug reform — the kind where you show sympathy to the offenders and give them more lenient sentences — will never work.
He tells friends and associates the government has got to teach children that they'll die if they take drugs and they've got to make drug dealers fear for their lives.
Trump has said he would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers here in America, though he's privately admitted it would probably be impossible to get a law this harsh passed under the American system.
Kellyanne Conway, who leads the White House's anti-drug efforts, argues Trump's position is more nuanced, saying the president is talking about high-volume dealers who are killing thousands of people. The point he's making, she says, is that some states execute criminals for killing one person but a dealer who brings a tiny quantity of fentanyl into a community can cause mass death in just one weekend, often with impunity.
Trump also wants to go after pharmaceutical companies, which will last about as long and go about as far as his previous efforts to "deal with the opioid crisis" last year, which is precisely nowhere, considering Big Pharma gives millions to the GOP.
But Trump will never miss an opportunity to enact a policy that hurts black people.
Trump may back legislation requiring a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, you have to deal forty grams to trigger the mandatory five-year sentence. (The DEA estimates that as little as two milligrams is enough to kill people.)
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, and much of it is manufactured in Chinese labs. It can be lethal in extremely small doses. Of the 64,000 people who died of drug overdoses in 2016, more than 20,000 overdosed on synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse.
Fnetanyl is definitely dangerous, but locking up street dealers isn't going to fix the problem. Nailing pharmaceutical companies to the wall for tens of billions in fines would be a good start, but that will never happen.