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Trump’s Drug Czar Nominee Visits New Haven After Mass K2 Overdose

Trump’s Drug Czar Jim Carroll held a closed-door meeting with numerous Connecticut officials to discuss combatting drug addiction.

Adam Drury

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Washington, DC Sees Mass Synthetic Marijuana Overdose
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President Trump’s nominee for “drug czar” and former deputy chief of staff Jim Carroll spoke in New Haven about the outbreak of nearly 100 synthetic cannabinoid overdoses that struck the city last week. Carroll is an attorney and currently at the helm of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. At a Monday press conference, Carroll praised the coordinated effort of first responders and emergency, medical and police crews who dealt with the steady stream of K2 overdose cases. He also expressed the importance of following through on Trump’s plan to curb drug addiction.

What Is President Trump’s Drug Czar Doing To Combat Drug Overdoses?

While President Trump has been in office, the unprecedented drug overdose crisis facing the United States has only gotten worse. In 2017, early statistics show there were more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths. But despite declaring opioid abuse a public health emergency that year, a stop-gap measure criticized sharply by many drug policy experts, the White House has accomplished little in its fight to end the epidemic.

Before Trump appointed Jim Carroll to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in March, a 24-year-old campaign staffer with no applicable qualifications was the top political appointee in the office. The Trump administration has also hit the drug control policy office with steep budget cuts.

Carroll, for his part, has no known public health experience. But White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to Carroll’s legal experience dealing with drug-related cases and people impacted by drug abuse. But Carroll wasn’t Trump’s first pick for the post. Instead, Trump had wanted to appoint Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania). But after it emerged that Marino had endorsed a law that blocked federal programs to fight opioid abuse, he withdrew from consideration.

Now, Carroll is the public face on the Trump administration’s efforts to fight drug abuse and addiction. And in New Haven, he outlined what the White House’s plan includes.

Drug Czar Jim Carroll Holds Closed-Door Meeting on K2 Problem in New Haven

The meeting between Carroll, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and many other state and city officials was closed to the public and the press. But Mayor Harp said of Carroll that he “gave a listening ear to those kinds of things that we need in this community to be able to address this problem”. Harp is confident Carroll will take what he heard back to Washington.

Others in the meeting said Carroll focused on the wider issue of addiction, especially opioid addiction, rather than just the synthetic cannabinoid problem in particular. During the press conference, Carroll said Trump’s plan to address these problems includes prevention, education, and treatment. Carroll also emphasized supporting law enforcement and cracking down on illegal drugs trafficked into the U.S.

The drug czar did not comment on cannabis or legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis as a way to combat opioid addiction. But he did say that the K2 overdose crisis that struck New Haven and other drug abuse problems are “a personal crisis for individuals.” In that respect, Carroll said he thinks the federal government’s role is to provide funding that communities can choose to spend how they wish. Mayor Harp said she hoped more money could be directed to treatment.

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