Colorado SB 20 (full text), which authorizes Legal Immunity to Drug Overdose Reporters, is on its way to Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk right now! The bill will provide immunity for the victim and up to two callers in incidences emergencies involving drugs and/or alcohol. This is a huge step forward not only for Colorado, but for sensible drug policy in general.
This news comes less than a month after Florida passed their own 911 Good Samaritan Legislation in April, and it illustrates how lawmakers across the country are realizing that the threat of punitive actions results in dangerous and unnecessary hesitation to call for help in life-threatening situations involving drugs and alcohol. What’s more, lawmakers are realizing that there is a simple and effective solution to so many needless overdose deaths: 911 Good Samaritan Policies.
A person and one or two other persons acting in concert with the person are immune from arrest and criminal prosecution for any of the following offenses if the offense arises from the same criminal episode or course of events from which an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event (event) arose; the person reports the event in good faith to a law enforcement agency or to the 911 system; the person and, if applicable, one or two other persons remain at the scene of the event until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives; and the person and, if applicable, one or two other persons identify themselves to, and cooperate with, the law enforcement officer or emergency medical responder:
- Unlawful possession of a controlled substance;
- Unlawful use of a controlled substance;
- Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of a controlled substance if the offense is based upon the transfer of a controlled substance from the person to another person for no remuneration;
- Unlawful possession of 12 ounces or less of marijuana or 3 ounces or less of marijuana concentrate;
- Open and public display, consumption, or use of less than 2 ounces of marijuana;
- Transferring or dispensing 2 ounces or less of marijuana from one person to another for no consideration;
- Unlawful use or possession of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum;
- Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale, or cultivation of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum if the offense is based upon the transfer of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum from the person to another person for no consideration;
- Possession of drug paraphernalia; and
- Illegal possession or consumption of ethyl alcohol by an underage person
911 GOOD SAMARITAN POLICY FACTS:
When someone in America overdoses, a call for help occurs less than 50% of the time.
Tobin, K. E., Davey, M. A., & Latkin, C. A. (2005). Calling Emergency Medical Services During Drug Overdose: An Examination of Individual, Social, and Setting Correlates. Addiction, 100(3), 397-404; Baca, C. T., & Grant, K. J. (2007). What Heroin Users Tell Us About Overdose. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 26(4), 63-68; Sherman, S. G., Gann, D. S., Scott, G., et al. (2008). A Qualitative Study of Overdose Responses Among Chicago IDUs. Harm Reduction Journal, 5(1), 2; Smart, A. T. & Porucznik, C. (n. d.). Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Study. Retrieved from www.dsamh.utah.gov/docs/dope_u_of_uschool_20060621.pdf; Tracy, M., Piper, T. M., Ompad, D., et al. (2005). Circumstances of Witnessed Drug Overdose in New York City: Implications for Intervention. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 79, 181-190.
Fear of police involvement is the most common reason for not calling 911 during an overdose.
Seal, K. H., Downing, M., Kral, A. H., et al. (2003). Attitudes about prescribing take-home naloxone to injection drug users for the management of heroin overdose: A survey of street-recruited injectors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Journal of Urban Health, 80(2), 291-301; Tracy, M., Piper, T. M., Ompad, D., et al. (2005). Circumstances of witnessed drug overdose in New York City: Implications for intervention. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 79, 181-190; Baca, C. T., & Grant, K. J. (2007). What heroin users tell us about overdose. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 26(4), 63-68; Sherman, S. G., Gann, D. S., Scott, G., et al. (2008). A qualitative study of overdose responses among Chicago IDUs. Harm Reduction Journal, 5(1), 2.