There are many reasons law enforcement and the general public stand against drug use and the illicit drug trade in Tennessee. Not only has drug overdose remained a serious epidemic in America for decades, but violent crimes are often associated with the illicit drug trade. For these and other reasons, the federal government began to focus its efforts on the drug trade from as early as the 1980s.
An article published by PBS states that the Democrats in Congress decided to get tough on drugs following the overdose of an athlete in an attempt to “outflank Republicans.” This led to reinstating minimum sentences in 1986, despite this being removed after careful consideration in 1970. Minimum sentences ranged from five to 10 years served in prison for drug crime convictions.
The original purpose of this was to prosecute high-level drug offenders at higher rates. However, the drug amounts mandated for five or ten years in prison made it possible to prosecute many lower-level drug traders as well. As many Americans know, Congress has since reconsidered its stance on minimum sentences. This allowed many people charged with possession and other lower-level offenses to either already go free or go free sooner than originally anticipated.
Nevertheless, as the opioid crisis continues, the Trump administration has reportedly vowed to get tougher on drugs than ever before. NPR reports that U.S. seizures of meth, in particular, are now on the rise. Between 2017 and 2018, confiscations increased by 142%. Even so, deaths by psychostimulants overall increased by 21% last year. However, a decline in overdoses linked to pain pills brought the overall overdose deaths lower.
It is not clear what new measures the Trump administration may put in place to further tackle the drug trade and the opioid crisis. There have been calls for the death penalty for drug dealers. Additionally, over the past four or so years, several doctors have faced murder charges related to overdose fatalities.