Drug War

Jerry Brown Signs "Good Samaritan" Bill for Those Who Call for Help During Drug Overdoses


Great news via an emailed press release from the Drug Policy Alliance, not yet online that I could find:

Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation seeking to reduce the number of preventable deaths resulting from accidental drug overdoses. The passage of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's AB 472, the "911 Good Samaritan bill,"  received bipartisan support and makes California the tenth state in the country to take action to reduce accidental overdose fatalities by removing barriers to accessing emergency health services.

Other states with similar laws include New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. The bill was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, California ACLU and the Health Officers Association of California. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013….

What the bill does, as summed up by the great California law blog "Around the Capitol":

This bill would provide that it shall not be a crime for any person who experiences a drug-related overdose, as defined, who, in good faith, seeks medical assistance, or any other person who, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for the person experiencing a drug-related overdose, to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, under certain circumstances related to a drug-related overdose that prompted seeking medical assistance if that person does not obstruct medical or law enforcement personnel. 

For the most part, it means you can call for medical help if witnessing an overdose without fearing you'll be popped for possession, which will likely lead to more such calls for medical help, and hence save lives. (Over-the-counter naloxone, which can save those overdosing after the drugs have been consumed, would be another great policy change, as soon as people can get over thinking those who take too many drugs deserve to die.)

This policy victory had a long gestation. Brown's predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill doing the same thing back in 2010.

More from the DPA press release:

Hundreds of advocates worked to champion versions of the bill for many years. Today, they cheered the news of the passage of law.

"This is an incredibly special day for the thousands of California family members who worked so hard and for so long to pass this life-saving bill," said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. "This is just a small first step in reducing the number of fatal overdoses in California, but it's a deeply important one."

California is among the many states where drug overdose fatalities are the number one cause of accidental injury-related death, surpassing even motor vehicle deaths. Although studies indicate that most people overdose in the presence of others, many people either delay or do not call for emergency services. Numerous studies have shown that the number one reason that people hesitate or fail to call 911 in an overdose situation is fear of arrest for drug possession….

Overdose prevention advocates will join dozens of organizations throughout 2013 in helping to get the word out and raise awareness of the new law.

Past Reason blogging about these "good samaritan" laws. 

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  1. But does your dog get immunity?

    1. can he call 911

      1. He can but he’s scared to

        1. puppy steps, my brotha. puppy steps…

  2. excellent! this is one of my favorite things, not to get all julie andrews and shit

    WA. as noted, already has such a law

    got rerouted to one (an OD) the other day because I happen to be one of the guys with an AED

    and one of my fellow officers just got an AED save. nothing could have made him happier.

    california has long been one of the least “harm reduction” (mj decrim aside) and punitive war on drug states

    for example, in CA, cops can and do arrest people for a HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE VIOLATION (oh, the irony) … 11550 wherein yes, one can be arrested for being under the influence of a narcotic

    note, not DRIVING and being under the influence… just walking around botherin nobody

    california is truly fucktastic when it comes to WOD excesses

    that shit is obscence

    and fwiw, in the case of the OD i went to, it WAS called in by the heroin user/OD’ers gf, she WAS under the influence, and thank GOD she called police. and thank god for the narcan man!

  3. Ok, they don’t tell the cops, but do they inform Mr. Wallace?

    1. Well I’m of the opinion that Marsellus can live his whole live and never ever hear of this incident.

      1. i’d personally prefer that if any biblical shit comes down, it aint happening in, on, or about my ass


  4. “Brown’s predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill doing the same thing back in 2010.”

    Wow, what a dick.

    1. He was elected to lead not read.

      1. well,it is true you can’t OD on Dbol.

        ahnold couldn’t relate, man

  5. Am I the only one who at first thought this was the law from the last episode of Seinfeld? (thankfully it isn’t)

  6. http://www.blogger.com/comment…..4600258620

    Apparently Romney has actually spoken some truth. Mother Jones is of course outraged

    1. your linky no clicky

        1. I don’t care what Althouse derps. I want comedy. I want to see the DERPFEST at Fark.

          1. I can’t believe he said it. I am in shock. Could it be the Romney actually has some brains after all? That is the best and most true thing I have heard a politician say in a long time.

            1. There are plenty of people paying no income tax who will not vote for BO. Retirees, poor rural folks, General Electric, etc.

              MR is implying that anyone who votes for Obama does it because they are a leech on society.

              1. Government employees, public sector unionists, trial lawyers,academics, Wall Street-types are not widely considered “leechs on society” but they are.

                1. i’m going to respectfully agree to disagree.

                  i am very well paid. well compensated. and from the public coffers, no less

                  but i aint no leech, man

                  but i get where you are coming from

              2. ok, general electric may be a person in some respects, but not for the purposes of voting

        2. Obama made a problematic judgment call in trying to explain working class culture to a much wealthier audience. He described blue collar Pennsylvanians with a series of what in the eyes of Californians might be considered pure negatives: guns, clinging to religion, antipathy, xenophobia.

          They sound pretty negative to this Pennsylvanian too. Who doesn’t view “antipathy” and “xenophobia” and “clinging” as negative qualities?

          1. if advocating for, and placing importance in civil rights, like RKBA meakes me a clinger, then mea fucking culpa

            I’M A CLINGER

  7. http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimbal…..-to-egypt/

    Obama in negotiations to transfer the blind sheik to Egypt. No not the wrestler, the guy who tried to blow up the WTC in 1993.

    1. I have a feeling we’ll see a lot of interesting executive branch activity in mid-November. Either way.

      Of course, we know how “compassionate release” for the Lockerbie bomber went.

    2. That should make up for the horrible offensive you tube video that jammed Islam’s bandwidth forcing them to watch disgusting Prophet porn. How could you blame such reaction?
      For Allah’s sake, the NEA would never have funded the ‘Piss Mohammed’.

      1. “jamming islam’s bandwith” or “jamming radical islam’s bandwith” is a fine turn of phrase. band name, essay title, etc

        i like it

  8. So now allowing one of your drug buddies to OD makes you a Good Samaritan? What’s to stop people who want to shoot up from grabbing a noob off the street and injecting them with heroin so that they can call 911 and be assured of no legal consequences of their own lawbreaking?

    1. What?

    2. huh?

      not computing, man.

      the first concern of LEO’s at ANY scene is protection of life. recall also, i have a background as a firefighter/EMT (and lifeguard). saving lives is the first priority. period. always. full stop

      as long as people DO drugs, some people will OD. amongst the problems, with drugs like heroin, is that it’s not pharmaceutical grade, where a user knows the dosage he is ACTUALLY getting in his syringe. that’s yet another negative consequnce of the WOD.

      i totally don’t get your point here. in the case you mentioned, the cops wouldn’t be responding in the first place. so, it’s irrelevant

      what the good samaritan law says is that given a medical emergency, the state encourages you to seek help. and by immunizing you (to some extent) from penal jeopardy when you do so, it incentivizes people to call 911. when seconds count (we are minutes away).

      ok, maybe you are being funny?

      1. there are a lot of hysterical NON stories promoted here and elsewhere in the media.

        you would think crime is out of control (it’s at a multidecade low) if you just listened to the major media.

        you would think cops are out of control if you listened to reason.

        neither is correct. and neither is supported by stats.

        when it comes to heroin OD’s, UNDENIABLY is *is* true that OD’s have spiked substantially.

        i’ve seen if firsthand and it’s confirmed by data

        “In 2010, 570 people died from opiate-involved overdoses (heroin and/or prescription-type) in Washington state, up from 188 in 1995. This column lays out practical advice to patients, families, and professionals on how to prevent, recognize and intervene in an overdose. Read the full column …”

        OD deaths TRIPLED!!!! per year over that time frame

        that is substantial

        that’s 382 who will never get to grow up, never get to be cool (thanks, neil)

        and GIVEN the WOD (iow, i am against it, but GIVEN it), i at least want to see MOAR HARM REDUCTION and less punitive shit

        the good samaritan law is an example of the former.

        WA state also has over the counter syringes. also a good harm reduction policy


        1. Stop! Stop! Stop with the acronyms!!! Pleaaaaaase! Oh, KMK!!

          1. ok, i’m being totally serious here. no snark. honestly curious.


            are terms like OD, WOD, EMT etc. problematic in a post?

            cause they are universal, and they are way easier to type

          2. He’s a cop (supposedly). Might as well ask him to stop shooting puppies and sticking up for murderers in blue.

      2. So does this mean the SOP for LEO’s will no longer be choking and pummeling a person that swallows drugs in their presence?

        1. From what I’ve seen, securing evidence is far, far above ‘protecting life’ on the list of priorities for law enforcement.

          1. What? You’re crazy. If we don’t breach with shotguns and kill their dogs, they might have time to flush that dimebag!!!!

            What are you, some kind of anarchist?

          2. you’ve seen different things than me, apparently. fair enuf

            there are a million stories in the nekkid city

        2. I saw an episode of Cops where the suspect swallowed his 3 crack rocks. The police knew they lost the evidence so they talked this white boy into barfing up the rocks. They kept telling him he was going to die because he swallowed 3 crack rocks. Please. That fool would have barely gotten high.

          What a dope.

        3. Yeah, the cop who shot that 17 year old unarmed kid who was allegedly flushing evidence was saving that poor boy from a life of crime.

    3. This has to be a joke. Not even Tulpa is this stupid

  9. I’m getting high from the fumes of my self-cleaning oven!

  10. I guess when you sign every single piece of legislature that’s put in front of you you’re bound to get ONE right.

  11. Sounds like a really good thing to me dude.


  12. I know its late, but the suggestion for OTC Naloxone, while great for a heroin overdose, won’t work at all for some other opiates and can give people a false sense of security – preventing them from calling an ambulance. Usually you don’t die immediately from an Opiate overdose and have time to get to the ER, if someone calls 911 right away. However, people abusing something like Suboxone (which contains naloxone itself that does nothing to inhibit the opiate) or another partial-agonist that has a super-high affinity for opioid receptors will not be kicked off like heroin will. People will take the naloxone and think they are fine, when in reality it did nothing and they need to be in the hospital. There is no real need for Naloxone when you can go to the hospital or call 911 without fear.

    1. Right. Just like there’s no need for guns when you can just call the cops.

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