New Mexico Overdose Prevention Bill Vetoed by Governor

Press Release April 6, 2017
Media Contact

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<p>Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256<br />
Tommy McDonald 510-679-2311</p>

Santa Fe – Today, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed Senate Bill 47 (SB47), the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Bill.  SB47, sponsored by Senator R. Martinez (D), passed the New Mexico State Legislature with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle, passing the House of Representatives (58-5) and the Senate on a unanimous vote of 33-0.

Senate Bill 47 proposed to amend the State’s 911 Good Samaritan law to include alcohol-related overdoses and to limit the prospect of arrest of people, who are on probation or parole or who have a restraining order, when they call 911 on behalf of someone experiencing an drug or alcohol overdose.  Being around drugs and alcohol are often a violation of an individual’s probation or parole.

“Vetoing this bill is callous and cold hearted,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Without these needed protections people on probation and parole will continue to be afraid to call 911 if they witness a drug or alcohol overdose.  As a result of the veto, we will continue to see people being dropped off in hospital parking lots or left to die alone from an overdose. Governor Martinez’s action means more of our children, parents, or grandparents are likely to die from an accidental overdose.”

More New Mexicans die from an unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle crash, including alcohol involved motor vehicle crashes.

New Mexico was the first state to pass a 911 Good Samaritan law in 2007. The law was signed to protect people who seek help for a friend or family member who is experiencing a drug overdose and call 911.  Twenty other states have passed a similar law to address the overwhelming rates of drug-related overdoses in their states.

People who are on probation and parole or who have a restraining order, for example, still fear arrest, even in cases where they need medical assistance for a friend or family member since they are not protected under current law. The provision protecting from violation of restraining order is already in two state laws: Georgia and Vermont. The provision protecting from parole violations is in five state laws: New Jersey, Vermont, Georgia, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading proponent of drug policy reform, has released a plan to address increasing rates of opioid use and overdose (now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States).  The plan marks a radical departure from the punitive responses that characterize much of U.S. drug policy and instead focuses on scientifically proven harm reduction and public health interventions that can improve treatment outcomes and reduce the negative consequences of opioid misuse, such as transmission of infectious diseases and overdose.

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

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