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Trump suggests he will declare opioid national emergency next week

Published on 17/10/17 at 09:15am
Image: Gage Skidmore

Back in August, President Trump had suggested that the opioid epidemic that is ravaging the US would be declared a national emergency, two months later he made noises to suggest this could happen in the not too distant future.

When pressed on the issue, he declared that: “We’re going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem.” He was speaking as part of an impromptu press conference that covered the recent revelation that Tom Marino, the pick for the position known as the ‘drug czar’, has become embroiled in controversy over his work on a piece of legislation.

It was shown, by reporting from The Washington Post and 60 Minutes, that he had campaigned to push through the legislation, known as Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, which limited the DEA’s ability to investigate suspicious shipments of painkillers.

When Trump was asked about his nomination of Marino, he said, “We're gonna be looking into Tom [Marino],” he told reporters from the Rose Garden. “He's a great guy. I did see the report. We're gonna look into the report.”

He also commented, on the possibility of dropping Marino, “If I think it’s 1% negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change.”

For Marino’s part, he has so far avoided making any comment on the investigation that unveiled his links to the legislation. Other senators have come forward in opposition to the legislation with suggestions that it needed to be altered or repealed. There have also been calls from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to withdraw the nomination, who suggesting it would be akin to “putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse”.

The topic is a sensitive one for many representing states that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis, and Marino’s part in the legislation will not go down well in his own state of Pennsylvania. The state has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis, with the state currently suing 14 drug companies over their role in creating the problems the state has faced.

Ben Hargreaves

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