New Mexico Governor Signs Innovative Legislation Designed to Reduce Overdose Deaths

Press Release April 3, 2007
Media Contact

Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Tommy McDonald at (646)-335-2242

SANTA FE-Gov. Bill Richardson has signed a measure that would shield people who seek medical assistance for a friend or family member who is experiencing a drug overdose. It is the first state law of its kind in the nation.

SB 200, the 911 Good Samaritan bill, addresses the overwhelming rates of drug-related overdoses in New Mexico by encouraging people to call 911 in the event of an overdose. The bill provides limited immunity from drug possession charges when a witness or victim of a drug-related overdose seeks emergency services for help.

New Mexico has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation, and one of the highest per capita heroin-related death rates. One person dies nearly every day of a drug overdose in New Mexico. In 2001, the New Mexico legislature passed a bill that removes criminal and civil liability from people who administer naloxone, an opiate overdose reversal agent. That legislation has led to hundreds of lives saved in the last six years.

“By signing this legislation, the Governor is sending a clear message to New Mexicans: don’t be afraid to seek medical help. This is definitely the next step in reducing the overwhelming number of preventable overdose deaths in New Mexico,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico.

Earlier this week Governor Richardson signed a medical marijuana bill into law making New Mexico the twelfth state to endorse the use of medical cannabis.

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

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