Calling for help shouldn’t be a crime in Virginia.
Every 19 minutes, someone in America dies from an unintentional drug overdose. Many of these overdoses happen in the presence of someone who is able to help, but is too scared to call 911. Fear of police involvement or drug charges prevent many life-saving 911 calls.
HB 557, Safe Reporting of Overdoses
(introduced in part due to the efforts
of VCU SSDP) would provide that victims or witnesses of drug or alcohol overdoses can call 911 for emergency medical services without fear of arrest, charge or prosecution for simple possession of a controlled substance, synthetic cannabinoid or alcohol. This type of policy has been adopted at hundreds of colleges and in over half of all US states, and has been shown to increase 911 call rates while not affecting drug or alcohol use rates. Hundreds of Virginians die every year from accidental drug overdoses, and adopting this policy would be a simple but effective way to save many of those lives.
VA HB 577 was tabled 1/15/2014 in subcommittee, so it won’t be heard again this session. Check back for updates next legislative session.