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New Jersey Acts to Save “Good Samaritan” Overdose Measure

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Democratic senators agreed on changes to a “Good Samaritan” bill that allows people to call 911 to report a drug overdose, without the fear of getting arrested for drug possession themselves.

The governor rejected the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act last fall, saying it was too focused on reporting drug overdoses, instead of deterrence, NJ.com reports.

On Monday, he partially vetoed a bill that makes the overdose antidote naloxone available to spouses, parents and guardians of people addicted to opioid. They would be taught to administer the drug in an emergency. He recommended that measure be combined with the key components of the Good Samaritan bill that protects witnesses and victims from arrest, charge, prosecution, conviction, or revocation of parole or probation, where evidence is obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance.

The state Senate and House both overwhelmingly approved the compromise bill. The governor will now review the bill, the article notes. “Governor Christie is grateful that his concerns on this important issue were heard and incorporated in a bipartisan way,” said Colin Reed, a spokesman for the governor. “We look forward to reviewing the reworked bill in its final form.”

A growing number of states have passed or are considering Good Samaritan laws. Most of the state laws protect people from prosecution if they have small quantities of drugs and seek medical aid after an overdose. The laws are designed to limit immunity to drug possession, so that large supplies of narcotics would remain illegal.

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