Good Samaritan bill would provide some immunity in drug cases

A proposed Good Samaritan law would provide immunity to those who report a drug overdose.

A Missouri lawmaker has filed a series of bills to combat the state's heroin-abuse problem. The bills, if passed, could provide lifesaving measures to help heroin and opiate addicts. Specifically, one bill would provide individuals with limited immunity from being charged with a drug crime if they report a drug overdose in progress, according to the Missouri Times. Additionally, the bills would create greater access to medication that can stop an overdose and would increase funding for drug rehabilitation programs.

Good Samaritan law

House Bill 1569 is also known as the 911 Good Samaritan bill, as it would provide some immunity for individuals who help get medical attention for someone who is suffering from a drug overdose. The bill, if passed, would prevent individuals from being charged with certain drug crimes, like possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, when they call 911 to report an overdose.

As KSDK News reports, supporters of Good Samaritan laws say that such measures save lives. When an overdose happens, time is of the essence, but many witnesses to a drug overdose may delay calling emergency personnel for fear that they themselves will be charged with a drug offense. That fear can lead to deadly situations or to individuals who have overdosed being "dumped" at emergency room entrances.

Other measures proposed

HB 1569 is not the only bill to address concerns about heroin and opiate overdoses in Missouri. Another bill, HB 1568, would allow Naloxone to be distributed over the counter at pharmacies. Naloxone is medication that can reverse a drug overdose that is in progress. Supporters of the bill hope that by making it easier for friends and family of drug addicts to have Naloxone on hand more overdose deaths can be prevented. A similar law in Massachusetts, for example, led to a dramatic decrease in opiate-related deaths in the state.

Finally, HB 1570 is designed to bolster funding for drug rehabilitation programs in the state. The bill would create a $5 surcharge for drug-related offenses. Money from the surcharge would go into an escrow and would be used to provide treatment to individuals who do not have insurance.

Drug laws

Being convicted of a drug crime can lead to serious consequences, including lengthy prison sentences and a criminal record. In some cases, however, rehabilitation is a more productive answer to dealing with a drug problem than prison would otherwise be. A criminal defense attorney can help those who have been charged with a drug offense understand their options, including whether they may be able to pursue rehabilitation.