President Donald Trump spoke for several minutes Tuesday afternoon from Bedminster, New Jersey, about his plans for combatting drug addiction and deaths in the United States. Among his solutions: increasing federal drug prosecutions; telling youth, "No good"; and strengthening the Mexico-U.S. border. Over the past year, Pacific Standard has covered many of these ideas and the research on whether they would prove effective. Below is a transcript of Trump's remarks. Click here to see that transcript annotated with research and reporting from PS.
Thank you very much, Secretary Price, for your work to address the crisis of opioid, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It is a tremendous problem in our country and we are going to get it taken care of as well as it could be taken care of, which hopefully will be better than any other country which also has the same problems or similar problems.
Nobody is safe from this epidemic that threatens young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural communities. Everybody is threatened. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States and opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999. It is a problem the likes of which we have not seen.
Meanwhile federal drug prosecutions have gone down in recent years. We're going to be bringing them up and bringing them up rapidly. At the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer than in 2011. So they looked at this scourge and they let it go by and we're not letting it go by. The average sentence length for a convicted federal drug offender decreased 20 percent from 2009 to 2016.
During my campaign I promised to fight this battle because, as president of the United States, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people and to ensure their safety. Especially in some parts of our country, it is horrible what's going on with the opioid and other drugs, but the opioid is something that nobody's seen anything like it.
Today I'm pleased to receive a briefing from our team on ways we can help our communities combat this absolutely terrible epidemic and keep youth from going down this deadly path. The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem. If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off. So we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: "No good. Really bad for you in every way." But if they don't start, it will never be a problem.
We're also working with law enforcement officers to protect innocent citizens from drug dealers that poison our communities. Strong law enforcement is absolutely vital to having a drug-free society.
I have had the opportunity to hear from many on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic and I'm confident by working with our health care and law enforcement experts, we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win.
We're also very, very tough on the southern border where much of this comes in. We're talking to China, where certain forms of man-made drug comes in and it is bad. We're speaking to other countries and we're getting cooperation, but we're being very, very strong on our southern border and I would say the likes of which this country has never seen that kind of strength.
So we're going to do our job. We're going to get it going. We have a tremendous team of experts and people that want to beat this horrible situation that's happened to our country and we will ... we will win. We have no alternative. We have to win for our youth. We have to win for our young people and, frankly, we have to win for a lot of other people, not necessarily young, that are totally addicted and have serious, serious problem.
We thank you all for being here. We're going to get on with our meeting. Thank you very much. Thank you all.