A couple of months ago I said a "Good Samaritan" bill approved by New Jersey's legislature, aimed at preventing overdose fatalities by protecting bystanders who call 911 from prosecution for drug offenses, gave Gov. Chris Christie "a chance to show he is less mindlessly draconian than other drug warriors." He blew it. The Drug War Chronicle reports that Christie vetoed the bill because he worries that it might let drug dealers "off the hook." Here is how he explained the decision at a town hall meeting in Mount Laurel:
How about if they're not a Good Samaritan? How about if they're the [person] who supplied the drugs? That was my problem with the bill….
What I'm not willing to do is to give is to give people who commit harm to other people a free pass just because they picked up the telephone.
Is it better to let someone die of an overdose (which happened 1,000 times in New Jersey last year) because people are afraid to call for help? That appears to be Christie's logic, and it does not jibe very well with his avowed commitment to harm reduction.
The bill, which applies to charges for possessing or sharing drugs but not selling them, is similar to laws adopted by 11 states. Christie said he would be open to signing a revised version, but the most likely change—narrowing the immunity to drug possession—would put more lives in jeopardy by excluding people who buy drugs with friends or acquaintances.
More on Good Samaritan laws from Brian Doherty here.