Sanders on Heroin Issue: ‘Addiction is a Disease, Not a Criminal Activity’

Sen. Bernie Sanders took on the issue of heroin addiction during Saturday night’s third Democratic debate, calling on voters and politicians to come to grips with addiction being “a disease, not a criminal activity.”

Sanders, along with fellow candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley, touched on the issue, calling the situation in both New Hampshire and his home state of Vermont a “tragedy,” adding that those in the medical and pharmaceutical fields need to get “their act together.”

“Look, this is tragedy for New Hampshire. It’s a tragedy for my state of Vermont. It is a tragedy all over this country,” Sanders said. “The number of heroin deaths are growing very, very significantly. What do we do? Well first off, this may seem like a radical idea, but I think we have got to tell the medical profession and doctors who are prescribing opiates and the pharmaceutical industry that they have got to start getting their act together.”

“Second of all, I believe in a healthcare for all program. We need to understand that addiction is a disease, not a criminal activity,” Sanders blared. “That means radically changing the way we deal with mental health and addiction issues. When somebody’s addicted and seeking help.”