A new “Good Samaritan” law grants immunity from drug-possession arrests to those who call 9-1-1 to report overdoses or who give an antidote to overdose victims.
Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature reached a bipartisan agreement on the bill, S-2082, in what was a victory for the families of overdose victims who had been lobbying for the measure. Both legislative chambers passed the bill Monday after Christie had issued a conditional veto of the bill, which was originally focused only on protecting those who administer naloxone, an antidote for those who have overdosed on heroin and other opioids.
In his veto statement, Christie asked that the Legislature add to the naloxone bill elements of an earlier bill focused on limiting the liability of those who call 9-1-1 to help overdose victims. New Jersey became the 12th state to enact a “good Samaritan” law that aims to encourage those who are with people who overdose to seek medical assistance.
Supporters of the law cited cases in which people didn’t seek medical assistance because they were concerned about being prosecuted for drug possession. Moorestown resident Susan Howland said she believed the law would have made a difference in saving the life of her brother, Richard Howland, who died from a heroin overdose in 1999 in South River.
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