RALEIGH – The state House Thursday gave its final approval to a Good Samaritan law, a change in state law that would provide limited immunity from prosecution for people who summon medical help for a person who overdoses on drugs.

The proposed change, if it becomes law, would allow anyone calling 911 or taking someone who has overdosed to the emergency room to avoid prosecution for misdemeanor drug charges, or small amounts of cocaine and heroin charges.

“It allows them to not get prosecuted for bringing their friends in to try to save their lives,” Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, said during earlier debate.

The House added a provision to the Senate-passed bill that would provide similar immunity for underage drinking.

That proposal was made by Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford.

“This will give immunity to that individual who might otherwise be subject to our alcohol laws,” Harrison said.

The bill also provides criminal and civil liability immunity for medical practitioners prescribing an antidote for opiate-related overdoses.

“It’s more important to save lives that it is to arrest someone for a minor amount of drugs,” said Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford.

Faircloth, a retired High Point police chief, said the law enforcement community was backing the bill.

Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, said he felt the bill was overly broad, allowing someone “at a wild party” to fake an overdose illness to avoid prosecution. “You’ve created for yourself an immunity from any prosecution,” Blust said.

The bill passed the House by a 102-11 vote. It now goes back to the Senate for concurrence on the House changes.

Barry Smith (@Barry_Smith) is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.