Washington State 911 Good Samaritan Law to Prevent ODs Now in Effect

A law that provides some legal immunity for people who report a drug overdose in Washington state is now in effect. That makes Washington the second state to enact a "911 Good Samaritan Law." New Mexico was the first in 2007. Under the measure, if someone overdoses and someone else seeks assistance, that person cannot be prosecuted for drug possession, nor can the person overdosing. Good Samaritans could, however, be charged with manufacturing or selling drugs. The measure is aimed at reducing drug overdoses by removing the fear of arrest as an impediment to seeking medical help. According to the state Department of Health, there were 820 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2006, more than double the 403 in 1999. The bill also allows people to use the opioid agonist naloxone, which counteracts the effects of opiate overdoses, if it is used to help prevent an overdose. Washington is the first state this year to pass a 911 Good Samaritan bill, but it may not be the last. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island are considering similar measures. Supporters of the new law held a press conference Monday to tout its benefits. “In 2008, there were 794 drug overdose deaths in Washington state,” said Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a drug overdose researcher from the University of Washington. “These overdoses do not need to be fatal. Death often takes several hours to occur,” and people are often present. He said more information on the law is available at www.stopoverdose.org. “We’re here today to encourage people who don’t work in hospitals to help saves lives,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “More people are dying now from prescription drug overdoses (than traffic accidents) and yet fewer people are aware of it,” McKenna said. He said drug overdoses are a hidden problem because they aren’t as visible as, for example, traffic accidents.. Sen. Rosa Franklin, who worked to pass the bill, said she worked as a nurse before becoming a legislator and wanted to address a problem she saw and read about. She said this bill will save lives. “We can no longer … put our heads in the sand and say that drug overdose is not happening.” Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington said drug overdoses wouldn’t happen in an ideal world, and this law wouldn’t be necessary. She said people do drugs to cope, find acceptance or escape. “We can continue to condemn such people as morally deviant and treat them as criminals,” but, she said, that doesn’t work. She said this law is an important step and a compromise agreement. “My son, a bright, creative, compassionate and funny kid, began using prescription opiates … during his senior year of high school,” John Gahagan said. Just weeks after graduation, his son died of a drug overdose. “The 911 Good Samaritan Law will save lives,” he said, adding that his son was alone at the time of his overdose, but he knows parents of other teens who could have been saved. “This law will only be effective if there is awareness of it … Call 911 to save a life,” he said.
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

So glad to hear that!

And it is heartening to know that other states are considering this as well. I suppose we'll just have to keep taking these baby steps until the public realizes we need to end drug prohibition fully, tax and regulate drugs for adults, and employ a public health paradigm.

- Jessica

finally. a law that makes

finally. a law that makes SENSE! nearly all of our drug laws are made to ruin lives both in and out of jail. it's about damn time people came to their senses.

Yes Totally Agree, drug laws

Yes Totally Agree, drug laws are insane, Alcohol is legal but you can be this drunk to drive, but can still,( If the Cop is just a jerk), arrest you, because despite the fact that this little machine says it legal, .04 " I say, when you had to corrected a mistake saying the alphabet backwards a " and standing on the side of the highway doing the line walk that truck went buy and the draft made you lose your balance,  You are DUI and you are under arrest, "You have the right to shut up, and if you tell me" ".04 isnt illegal and you cant arrest me"
,   I say yes i can", and if you argue your resisting arrest? like the "can i search your vehicle?" No!!. well this sanwich bag gives me probable cause so i can anyway! and they will. and the people they do to, can only get a public defender, and they will plea it down and you get probation or something and you get fined anyway. My friend is a real lawyer and got both of those BS charges dismissed, I Had one beer after dinner then left half an hour later,and the cop did the crap i described, and then the cop who asked "Can I Search your Car?" ok well ill do it anyhow, both times arrested because, I called BS and WAS RIGHT!! but i didn't have to pay  the 10 hours of lawyer time total for that, Could You afford? to drop $1500 in legal fees? on some BS I cant! and its not fair, I have Respect For Police Officers, My first Car was a 69 442, I Met alot in my first 2 years of driving, and id say 90% of them are good honest Men who are Out to Serve, And are reasonable, The other 10% 5% will give you a fixit ticket for a light thats out, Strictly By the book but also Honest And Fair, the Other 5% or less, are TOTALLY on a power trip, thats the <%5 that abuse there power and are not Fit For the Uniform, like the officers i Met in the Accounts Above. And i know Drug Laws Are Even worse, Just watch COPS it makes a few look like idiots and completely overreact to everything, the person that has done nothing doesnt need to be put to the ground and kneeled on just to put them in cuffs, after showing no resistance at all, and honestly saying "yes that is my half of gram of pot, and a small pipe", yes sir no sir, thanks for throwing me on the Ground, PRICK!  i mean Sir! oh no I love having my face pushed into the gravel, when you kneel on my neck. , as you can tell i feel very strongly, I Was cleared for 4  charges  in 2 arrests because I was Arrested unlawfully, having brocken NO! Local RCW's   and only because I know a lawyer not A public defender who ONLY plea I observed a DUI trial under exactly the same circumstances as mine, being plea'd to 2yrs probation and 120 hrs community service, and a 1yr ignition interlock at what $125? a month? and a $1500 dollar fine AFTER BLOWING A .04 HALF THE LEGAL LIMIT!!!!! that would have happened to me if i didn't have a real lawyer, I Spoke to that public Defender before I asked my friend to do it and he told me he Would as for a similar deal FOR SOMETHING I DIDNT DO!!!!! Oh and The Cop who Used a ziplock Bag as probable cause, it was on the floor of my car ,I was Coming home from work and got pulled over because I had one of the two licsence plate lights out, the bag Was from my lunch and had a few pieces of chips in the bottom, I Tried to get it to show him it was chips, after i told him No you cant search my car because thats crap, when i reached for it AFTER i told him i would" he pulled a gun on me, I had to unbuckle to reach the bag. so i had the pleasure of being pulled out the window with the chip bag in my hand, and A gun to my head!!, and i was charged with a concealed weapon (A Leatherman Multi Tool With a knife as one of the 20 odd options in the rear cupholder, about a foot and a half  behind the stick ) btw and again It got dismissed because i had broken NO LAWS!!!! And When the judge saw the dashcam vid and the recording was pretty mad at the crazy amount of force used, My point is all this wastes so much time and so much money of innocent people, and makes NO POSITIVE impact even if they do find someone with personal use drugs or just a pipe, they go hoist a beer at the major impact they just had on the war on drugs!!! WHAT?  

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School