9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Act heads to committee

Legislation offering legal immunity to those seeking medical aid for a drug overdose gets a Tuesday committee hearing.

Gold dome

Good Samaritan legislation offering a legal shield to those seeking medical attention for drug overdoses is up for consideration in the state House by the Judicial Non-Civil Committee Tuesday, marking progress for an effort over a year in the making.

According to the Georgia Overdose Prevention Campaign, H.B. 965 “would protect those seeking medical assistance during an overdose from criminal prosecution for drug possession (this would not include drug trafficking or distribution).”

Such protections are already law in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Those states include both Florida and North Carolina. An additional 14 states are considering similar legislation.

The bipartisan charge is being led by Republican state Reps. Sharon Cooper, Ben Watson, Bruce Broadrick, Dale Rutledge, Tom Weldon and Democratic Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver. Weldon led the charge of an effort cracking down on “pill mills” in 2013.

The advocacy website further cites data that 88 percent of drug users would be more likely to seek 911 help if they knew they would have immunity from prosecution.

A separate piece of legislation, H.B. 966, would ensure the availability of the proper treatment in the event of its counterpart’s passage.

“Almost all opiate-related overdoses can be reversed and naloxone, the antidote used in most of these cases, is 98% effective when administered in time,” the site continues. “Easier access to naloxone ensures that victims of overdose will be less likely to die or suffer long-term effects such as brain or tissue damage as a result of an accidental overdose.”

-Brandon Howell

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