New Jersey Weighs a Law to Help OD'ing Residents
But the bill, which aims to protect people who call 911 during a drug emergency, hits a snag.
The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee dragged its feet today on the state's proposed Good Samaritan law, requesting a statement for further clarity of language between “distribution” and “possession” of drugs. The bill, which seeks to extend protection from certain penalties to any witness who calls 911 in a drug overdose emergency, will now be heard again on March 22. Its main sponsors are state Senators Vitale and Weinberg, and it's backed by the Drug Policy Alliance and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence–New Jersey (NCADD-NJ). Candice Singer (NCADD-NJ Research & Policy Analyst) and Roseanne Scotti (New Jersey State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance) were invited to answer questions by the committee; Scotti and Drug Policy Alliance Policy Coordinator Meagan Glazer tell The Fix that 40 public health organizations and 14 individuals submitted testimony supporting the bill. Paul Ressler, an NCADD Advocacy Leader, lost his 22-year-old son to an overdose; he states, “A 911 call was attempted on my son’s cell but not completed.” And Patty DiRenzo relates, “My son…Sal…was 27 when he overdosed. His death…could have been prevented if the people he was with had called 911 for help; but they didn’t, most likely for fear of arrest. Sal was left alone to die.” Good Samaritan laws already exist in Connecticut, New York, Illinois, New Mexico and Washington State.