Gov. Jerry Brown Signs 911 Good Samaritan Law to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths

Press Release September 18, 2012
Media Contact

Meghan Ralston 323-681-5224 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215</p>

On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation seeking to reduce the number of preventable deaths resulting from accidental drug overdoses. The passage of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 472, the “911 Good Samaritan bill,”  received bipartisan support and makes California the tenth state in the country to take action to reduce accidental overdose fatalities by removing barriers to accessing emergency health services. Advocates will host a telephone press briefing on Thursday, September 20 at 11 a.m. P.S.T. to discuss the life-saving law and its impact on California’s overdose problem.

On the call will be Assemblymember Ammiano, Denise Cullen, the co-founder of Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing, Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director of A New PATH, and Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager with Drug Policy Alliance. The teleconference briefing can be accessed by dialing 1-800-311-9404; Passcode: Good Samaritan.

Other states with similar laws include New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. The bill was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, California ACLU and the Health Officers Association of California. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013.

California is among the many states where drug overdose fatalities are the number one cause of accidental injury-related death, surpassing even motor vehicle deaths. Although studies indicate that most people overdose in the presence of others, many people either delay or do not call for emergency services. Numerous studies have shown that the number one reason that people hesitate or fail to call 911 in an overdose situation is fear of arrest for drug possession. To encourage people to seek emergency health services in the event of an accidental overdose, California’s  911 Good Samaritan law provides limited protections from charge and prosecution for low-level drug law violations, including possession of small amounts of drugs. Those who sell drugs are not protected under the new law.

What:  Tele-Press Conference on California’s new Good Samaritan law to reduce drug overdose deaths
When: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 11 a.m. P.S.T.
Call-in Info: 1-800-311-9404; Passcode: Good Samaritan
Who:   Assemblymember Tom Ammiano
            Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director, A New PATH
            Denise Cullen, co-founder, Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing
            Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager, Drug Policy Alliance

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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