A proposed Good Samaritan law – that would give someone who calls 911 for help for someone who had overdosed on drugs limited immunity from prosecution – cleared the Senate on Tuesday. It now goes to the House.
The proposed law, which also provides criminal and civil liability immunity for medical practitioners prescribing an antidote for opiate-related overdoses – was approved by the Senate 50-0.
“The only point of this piece of legislation is to save lives,” said Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba. “Anyone can become addicted to prescription drugs.”
The bill provides for immunity from prosecution for people seeking medical assistance for themselves or for someone else for a drug-related overdose. The immunity would be from prosecution for misdemeanor possession of drugs, misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, felony possession of less than gram of cocaine, and felony possession of less than one gram of heroin.
It would not provide for immunity from other crimes, such as drug trafficking. Supporters of the bill have said it is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, told fellow senators that a program called Project Lazarus, which operates in the state, had been successful in reducing deaths from drug overdoses.
Project Lazarus uses the antidote drug called naloxone hydrochloride.
Supporters of the bill say that the antidote is effective in negating the effects of opiate-related drugs.