In New Jersey, where prescription drug addiction is a huge problem, advocates of drug overdose victims are criticizing Gov. Chris Christie’s rejection of a Good Samaritan bill. The governor claimed the measure was too narrowly focused on encouraging more reporting of drug overdoses, rather than other aspects such as drug abuse deterrence, violence prevention and public safety.
Good Samaritan laws aim to reduce overdose deaths by protecting people who call for medical help for overdose victims from being prosecuted for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking. Even though opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest and prosecution, and instead rely on ineffective methods of reviving victims. Nine states – New York, Illinois, Washington State, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut – have already enacted such laws, and similar measures are currently pending in several others.