President Donald Trump called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in January during a conversation between the two about the drug trade between the two countries, all while pressuring Nieto to pay for a border wall.
A transcript of this phone call—the first between the two—was acquired by The Washington Post.
“We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy,” Trump said to Nieto in reference to the cross-border drug trade between both countries. “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.”
Here’s the thing: Trump’s current agenda when it comes to policy has been likened to the Reagan-era “War on Drugs”—meaning his administration would make things worse for states like New Hampshire which are currently in the throes of an opioid abuse crisis.
And the other thing? Trump didn’t win New Hampshire: Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the state in the 2016 election; Trump only won the primary.
Is New Hampshire Actually a “Drug-Infested Den”
But is the president’s characterization of New Hampshire as a “drug-infested den” accurate, or is it just adding insulting) hyperbole to injury?
While it’s well known that New Hampshire is considered a “ground zero” for opioid use—it has one of the highest opioid-related fatality rates in the country—current Governor Chris Sununu is making strides to combat the state’s drug epidemic. Last month, Sununu signed a cannabis decriminalization bill into effect in an effort to re-allocate funds and focus to remedial methods to help opioid users.
“There’s a lot of collateral damage that’s done by arresting people for marijuana,” Representative Renny Cushing (D) told the press shortly before the bill was signed into law.
“We spend $35,000 a year to keep someone in jail, in prison in this state for marijuana possession at a time when we don’t have enough money for beds for opioid addicts,” he added.
If anything, Trump’s current initiatives against drug use, as voiced through current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would curb the therapeutic and recuperative measures states like New Hampshire have attempted to institute. In short: the viewpoints of the Trump administration—including anti-cannabis sentiments—would only make things worse in states like New Hampshire, not better.
The Final Hit: Trump Calls New Hampshire a “Drug-Infested Den”
It would be remiss to not put the conversation between Nieto and Trump into proper context. The call itself mostly pertained to Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for a border wall between both countries—a vow that became a central locus of his campaign
Trump told Nieto that they “work out in the formula somehow,” regarding a payment structure, which Nieto virulently argued against.
“It will come out in the wash, and that is okay,” Trump added during the call, “(but) if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”