On Thursday, President Donald Trump told reporters that his administration is drafting paperwork to officially declare the devastating opioid crisis a national emergency.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency," said the president, speaking outside his New Jersey golf club. "It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."
“We’re going to draw it up, and we’re going to make it a national emergency," he reiterated.
"It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had. You know when I was growing up they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years. And I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem. This is happening worldwide. But this is a national emergency, and we are drawing documents now to so attest," continued Trump.
A report on the epidemic advised that declaring the crisis a national emergency was the "first and most urgent" step President Trump should take in tackling the issue.
"Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it," said the report. "The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency."
After being briefed on the report, the president vowed to crack down on foreign and domestic “drug dealers that poison our communities."
"At the end of 2016, there were 23% fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011. So they looked at this surge and they let it go by," Trump said Tuesday. "We're not letting it go by. The average sentence for a drug offender decreased 20% from 2009 to 2016."
As noted by The Hill, "The nation has seen a significant uptick in deaths from opioids, with the rate of death from heroin and prescription painkillers quadrupling since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
President Trump frequently spoke of the crushing opioid epidemic during the 2016 campaign.