Overdose Prevention Campaign Victories

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On May 3, 2013, Governor Christie signed the Overdose Prevention Act into law.  The bill was the result of a compromise that combined two different pieces of overdose prevention legislation, one that provided legal protections to those who experience or witness a drug overdose and summon medical assistance, and one that expanded access to the life-saving medication naloxone.

Last October, the Governor vetoed the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act (A578/S851), which grants legal immunity to those who witness a drug overdose and summon medical assistance.  Several months later, a bill to expand access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (S2082/A3095) was passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor’s desk.

Under an agreement reached between the Legislature and the Governor, Christie conditionally vetoed the naloxone bill and added additional language providing legal protection for victims and witnesses who call for emergency medical assistance in overdose situations.  Although the protections offered in the compromise bill are not as broad as they were in the original Good Samaritan Act, the most critical immunities shielding callers and victims from arrest and prosecution for drug possession charges survived.

This success was the result of tireless advocacy by residents throughout the state of New Jersey who continued championing the importance of the Good Samaritan bill even after the Governor’s veto.  In particular, people from around the state mounted an aggressive letter-writing campaign worked to pass 20 municipal resolutions encouraging the Legislature to override the Governor’s veto, all within in a very short period of time.

The implementation of these new policies opens up the opportunity to save countless lives going forward and we are grateful to all those who worked so hard to make this law a reality.

DPA was present at the public signing of the Overdose Prevention Act.  To view pictures from the event, click here.

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