Trump Push for Chinese Crackdown on Fentanyl is Morally Reprehensible and will Backfire

Press Release December 5, 2018
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Grant Smith 202-683-2984

In a pair of tweets this morning, President Trump called on China to crack down on fentanyl and claimed that using the death penalty on people who distribute or sell the drug would have “incredible” results. China is widely believed to be the top producer of fentanyl and other synthetic opioid analogues and the primary source country for illegal opioids in the United States. The White House reportedly has considered a fentanyl crackdown by Chinese authorities to be a priority and President Trump made this request of President Xi Jinping of China during a meeting last week. Trump has frequently called for the use of the death penalty against people who sell or distribute drugs and has praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for his brutal war on drugs that has resulted in the extrajudicial killing of an estimated 12,000 people.

Statement from Grant Smith, Drug Policy Alliance, Deputy Director of National Affairs:

 “Draconian criminal punishments for fentanyl will actually make the problems associated with this drug much worse than they are now. This won’t reduce addiction and overdose deaths in the U.S., but it will incentivize the proliferation of even more potent drugs that will further exacerbate the crisis.  President Trump’s push for China to execute more of its citizens for drug offenses is morally repugnant and ignores the decades-long failure of extremely harsh drug policies here in the U.S..”  

“Fentanyl has indeed become the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S., but health-based measures are far more effective than criminalization. Interventions like drug checking, naloxone, supervised consumption spaces, and expanding access to evidence-based treatment are urgently needed to reduce fentanyl-related deaths.”

For more information from the Drug Policy Alliance on synthetic opioids, please see this media tip sheet.


A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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