President Donald Trump said executing drug dealers would help solve the opioid crisis currently gripping the United States.
Addressing a meeting of lawmakers at the White House Thursday, Trump said: “You have to have strength, and you have to have toughness.
“The drug dealers, the drug pushers, are really doing damage, some countries have a very, very tough penalty. The ultimate penalty.
“And by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do. So, we are going to have to be very strong on penalties.”
The president added: “Hopefully, we can do some litigation on the opioid companies, I think it’s very important, because a lot of states are doing it.
“But I keep saying, if the states are doing it, why isn’t the federal government doing it? So, that will happen.”
President Trump is famously clean-living and has never drank alcohol, smoked or taken drugs.
He cited the death of his airline pilot brother Fred from alcoholism in 1981 as the reason he was put off trying booze, cigarettes or substances.
Speaking to families affected by the opioid crisis last year, Trump said: “I learned myself. I had a brother, Fred. Great guy, best-looking guy, best personality – much better than mine.
“But he had a problem. He had a problem with alcohol. And he would tell me: ‘Don’t drink. Don’t drink.’”
Opioids are extremely powerful, addictive painkillers with anaesthetic-like effects. America has the death penalty for drug traffickers on its statute books, but does not apply it in practice.
Only six of the 14 countries with similar laws regularly execute drug offenders. They are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
China is estimated to have executed thousands of drug dealers, according to Amnesty International, but does not publish death row data.
Iran killed around 2,900 drug offenders between 2007 and 2015, while Saudi Arabia executed just over 700.