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Proposed Pennsylvania law may prevent heroin-related deaths

Drug overdoses claim the lives of far too many Pennsylvanians. One reason for the uptick in overdoses related to heroin use is the purity of the heroin itself, which can be as high as 80 percent. Also, some data shows that the rise in prescription drug abuse is also contributing to increased heroin use.

To reduce the number of heroin-related deaths, state lawmakers have proposed a bill that may help reduce the number of deaths caused by heroin use. If a recent proposal is signed into law, Pennsylvanians who report a life-threatening heroin overdose may receive some immunity from arrest, prosecution, and the serious consequences of a drug crime conviction. Under current law, people who report overdoses can be protected from prosecution, but they can be arrested.

Under the proposed law, people who have intent to distribute may still be arrested and prosecuted, even if they help to prevent a drug-related death. Also, the call for help must take place while the person is still alive and able to be rescued, not hours after a death, and the caller must remain at the scene until emergency services personnel arrive.

The proposed law also enables law enforcement, emergency personnel, and even some family members of drug abusers to administer an anti-overdose drug that may save lives.

Thankfully, lawmakers are working to help people who suffer from the devastation that can result from a drug addiction. Although law enforcement arrests and prosecutes people for drug possession and other drug crimes, some officials said that their first goal is to save lives. Nevertheless, people who are facing drug charges may want to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: The Morning Call, “’Good Samaritan’ bill would give limited immunity to people who report overdose,” Steve Esack, March 18, 2014

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Gregory R. Gifford
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