Package of Overdose Prevention Bills Clear the New Mexico State Senate

Press Release February 12, 2017
Media Contact

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<p>Emily Kaltenbach (505) 920-5256<br />
Tony Newman (646) 335-5384</p>

Santa Fe – A package of overdose prevention bills (Senate Bill 47 and Senate Bill 16) passed the New Mexico State Senate with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle.  They passed the Senate by 33-0 and 24-16 respectively. The bills now head to the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Senator R. Martinez (D), proposes to amend the State’s 911 Good Samaritan law to include alcohol-related overdoses and to eliminate the prospect of criminal liability arising from violations of possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia laws, restraining orders or probation or parole involving persons seeking medical assistance for an overdose.  Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Soules (D) proposes to add requirements for health care providers who prescribe prescription opioids to counsel patients on the risks of overdose and to offer the patient a prescription of naloxone, an overdose reversal drug.

“Addressing New Mexico’s opioid epidemic takes a comprehensive approach,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “These two bills are one more step forward in keeping our families safe. Time is not on our side, we cannot afford to lose another child, parent, grandparent to 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. Senate Bill 47 is designed to save lives.

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.

Naloxone (also called Narcan) is an inexpensive, generic drug that works to reverse an opioid overdose by restoring breath to unconscious overdose victims. It has been used with efficacy and safety in emergency rooms and ambulances in the United States for over forty years.

The Rhode Island Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force found that offering naloxone to those prescribed a Schedule II opioid or when co-prescribed a benzodiazepine and any opioid would have reached 86% of overdose victims who received a prescription from a pharmacy prior to their death, and could have prevented 58% of all overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015.

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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