Skip to main content

Harm Reduction: Washington Senate Passes Good Samaritan Bill, Would Protect Against Prosecution in Overdose Cases

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #620)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The Washington state Senate Friday passed SB 5516, the 911 Good Samaritan Act, on a vote of 47-1. One member was absent. The bill now goes to the House.

Washington State House, Olympia
The measure provides immunity from prosecution for drug possession offenses for overdose victims and people who seek medical assistance for overdose victims. It does not grant immunity from prosecution for drug distribution offenses.

It also allows expanded access to Naloxone, a powerful opiate antagonist that can bring people back from the brink of death from overdoses in a matter of moments.

The bill comes as the number of drug overdose deaths in Washington state have increased from around 403 in 1999 to 707, or nearly two a day, in 2006. Drug overdose is now the second leading cause of accidental death in the state, second only to traffic accidents.

The bill was opposed by the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, who argued that because there was no budget for publicizing the bill, it would not affect drug-taking behaviors, and thus would be no more than another complicating factor in drug prosecutions.

Drug overdose fatalities now outrank traffic accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in more than a dozen states. But only one state, New Mexico, has approved a Good Samaritan law. Perhaps Washington will be next.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Jean Boyd (not verified)

Naloxone can be a life saver and should be available to anyone who may need it. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorney's excuse for not supporting the Good Samaritan Act is flimsy and bordering insane. These prosecutors should be relieved of their posts as they are no longer behaving in a way that is positive for citizens.

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 7:21pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I’ve herd about the bill, "in Australia", does the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorney's really think people are that stupid. What is legislation for over there, the rich? oh that’s right the politicians are lobbied by corporate America, I feel sad for the under privileged in America, they will suffer more then in underdeveloped countries

This bill may not bring wealth to those that oppose it, hey you attorneys get shares in the company that produces/distributes Naloxone, you will support it then, when their is a good money grubble it for you, instead of just saving lives.

Sun, 02/14/2010 - 8:00pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.