NY State Legislature Considers a Medical Amnesty Policy to Curve Overdose Crises

NEW YORK – Proposed laws in the New York legislature that would allow New York residents to call for medical assistance during drug or alcohol overdose situations without fear of prosecution have been introduced in both legislative chambers.  Both bills will first be under consideration in the Codes Committees.

Democratic Assembly member Gottfried is sponsoring the Assembly bill, A2063B. Republican Senator DeFrancisco is sponsoring the Senate bill, S4454A. Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), one of the main groups advocating for the new policy, believes that there is enough support in the legislature to pass A2063B/S4454A.

Medical amnesty (or “Good Samaritan”) policies have been enacted in New Mexico, Washington, and at colleges around the country to help prevent overdose deaths.  New Jersey has also adopted a similar policy for underage alcohol use. Legal prescription opiates, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, are driving the increase in overdose deaths nationally.  From 1999 to 2006, the number of overdose deaths from opioid painkillers more than tripled to 13,800 deaths that year, according to the CDC.

A study done by Cornell University on the effects of their alcohol-only medical amnesty policy has shown that since the adoption of the policy in 2002, student calls to 911 for help doubled while alcohol use remained the same. The passage of this policy would place New York among the leading states working to reduce drug overdose fatalities in the country.

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Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.

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