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Helping NJ’s Drug Overdose Victims

A measure that’s designed to increase medical attention for drug overdose victims in Jersey is advancing.

Daniel Sambraus, Getty Images

The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act would protect witnesses and victims of a drug overdose from being subject to an arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction for obtaining, possessing, using, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance; possessing an imitation controlled dangerous substance; using or possessing with the intent to use drug paraphernalia or for possessing a hypodermic syringe or needle, or sharing or possessing with the intent to share a controlled dangerous substance, drug paraphernalia, or a hypodermic syringe or needle.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, one of the prime sponsors of the measure, says “deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey, but many of these deaths could be prevented if medical assistance were sought immediately.”

She points out “many times, the fear of arrest and prosecution prevents people from seeking appropriate assistance in the face of a medical emergency involving drug use.”

Another sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, says “this measure is intended to encourage individuals witnessing a potential drug overdose to seek medical attention for the victim by insulating them from criminal prosecution.”

The measure has been passed by the full Assembly, and now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

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