Ramping up the drug war would be a huge mistake, and one that will enrich crony interests, which is part of the point here. Sadly.
With those early comments, Trump is more in line with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attitude toward ramping up the drug war and much less with the very commission whose preliminary report on the opioid crisis prompted this meeting in the first place.
The report wasn’t focused on putting Americans in prison so much as it was on trying to get Trump to declare opioids a “national emergency,” the aim being more government spending to fight addiction and more federal regulation of drug treatment and prescriptions.
Trump has resisted declaring a national emergency thus far. Do not mistake this for resisting a panic-based response. It’s very clear from his comments that Trump (like Sessions) is stuck in the 1980s-1990s mindset that drug addiction is caused by creepy urban thugs on street corners luring children into trying some pills. So naturally, he’s going to conclude that bad people need to be punished.