Advocates Call for State Laws to Encourage People to Seek Help for Overdose Victims
Advocates around the nation are pushing for state laws that give people limited immunity on drug possession charges if they seek medical help for someone suffering from an overdose, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Eight states have passed such “Good Samaritan” laws during the past five years, the article notes. A similar measure is under consideration in the District of Columbia, but faces opposition from prosecutors and police.
Critics of the laws say they are equivalent to get-out-of-jail-free cards. The measures condone drug use, and could prevent police from investigating drug dealing, or juvenile drug use, they argue.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington found 88 percent of opiate users surveyed in the state, which passed a “Good Samaritan” law in 2010, said they would now be more likely to call 911 during an overdose. The study found 62 percent of police surveyed said they would not make an arrest for possession anyway, so their behavior would not be changed by the law.
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.