It’s looking more certain that former President Donald Trump is planning to run again in 2024. Last month, during an interview on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show podcast, Trump said it would be “very hard for me not to run.” Only days before, during a speech at the America First Policy Institute, he hinted at his stance on the Drug War by calling for drug dealers to receive the death penalty.
“The penalties should be very, very severe. If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are ones that institute a very quick trial death penalty sentence for drug dealers,” said the former president.
His comment came as part of a tirade against rising crime rates in the nation’s major urban centers. Trump suggested increasing police presence in neighborhoods, moving homeless encampments to “parcels of inexpensive land at the outer reaches of the city” and strengthening qualified immunity to allow officers to act with impunity while on the job. “We’re living in such a different country for one primary reason: There is no longer respect for the law, and there certainly is no order. Our country is now a cesspool of crime,” Trump said.
His comments on drug trafficking were particularly distressing considering his wishy-washy record of supporting and rejecting cannabis reform. The former president praised countries with even more draconian cannabis laws than the U.S., suggesting that American policies were too lax.
“It’s terrible to say, but you take a look at every country in this world that doesn’t have a problem with drugs, they have a very strong death penalty for people that sell drugs,” said Trump.
There are at least 33 countries and territories that punish drug trafficking with the death penalty, including world powers like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. This can often be used as a way to shut down dissidents or make political maneuvers.
In 2019 a Chinese court sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to die on charges of drug trafficking. He had initially been handed a 15-year sentence, but was given the death penalty in a one-day retrial. According to The New York Times, the retrial happened about a month after Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested for fraud in Canada. The Huawei executive was battling an extradition request from the U.S. when Schellenberg’s appeal to the death sentence was rejected in August, 2021. The next month, the U.S. made a deal with Meng and dropped the criminal charges against her, allowing her to return to China. Schellenberg remains on death row and it’s unclear if the Chinese Communist Party will be willing to commute his sentence.
By praising countries like China for their swift and harsh drug laws, Trump is also praising the use of those laws in applying political pressure on opponents.
A president wouldn’t even have to strain much to execute a drug dealer in the U.S. According to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the death penalty can be leveled at anyone convicted of trafficking large amounts of drugs. No one has ever been executed for this reason, however.