During the 2016 presidential primary race, Chris Christie spoke movingly in New Hampshire about the death of a law school classmate who became addicted to drugs after a running injury. The topic resonated among the voters of New Hampshire, which, like many other states in the northeast, has grieved the loss of too many of its people to drugs. That resonance was not enough to drown out the full-throated fantasy offered by Donald Trump as he preyed on that grief, promising a wall that would end the movement of heroin across our border, completely ignoring the fact that most of it comes across at our legal ports of entry.
Instead of building an impossible wall across the thousands of border miles to stop the opioid crisis, Trump has signed an executive order that established a commission (headed by Christie) to study the issue. According to the PBS report on the commission, its goals are to:
- Identify existing federal dollars to combat drug addiction, including opioids;
- Assess availability and access to addiction treatment centers and overdose reversal and identify underserved areas;
- Measure the effectiveness of state prescription drug monitoring programs;
- Evaluate public messaging campaigns about prescription and illegal opioids, and identify best practices for drug prevention.
At the same time, Trump is planning to eliminate the White House Office for National Drug Control Policy. Established during the Reagan administration, the office has spent 30 years supervising the drug control policies and plans of the federal government. As yet, no new drug czar has been named.