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Good Samaritan Overdose Law helps drug users avoid prosecution

This little known state law helps those suffering from an illegal drug overdose stay out of jail when they seek help.

Posted: Nov. 16, 2017 9:40 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: A little known Mississippi law passed nearly 2 1/2 years ago is designed to keep those calling 911 in the event of a drug overdose from going to jail. These days, in the middle of what many are referring to as an 'opioid crisis,' the law seems to be having an impact. WTVA’s Mike Russell spenmt much of Thursday in Oxford, and filed this report.

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) - It’s called the Mississippi Medical Emergency Good Samaritan Act -- and if you or someone you know is suffering from a drug overdose, it’s designed to keep either one of you from going to jail.

The law took effect July 1, 2015. The year before...? The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics says it processed 136 overdose cases. Of course, not all of those cases resulted in the death of the user -- but the law was intended, in part, to make sure fewer and fewer drug users died. And these days, in the middle of what many are referring to as an opioid 'crisis,' the law seems to be having an impact. Lieutenant David Sabin is a 12-year veteran of the Oxford Police Department. He's a former DUI enforcement officer, and works closely with the Metro Narcotics Unit.

"When we get the call actually to the scene -- when the overdose may have first started, or early on in the medical emergency, we have a better chance of helping them," says Sabin. "So I do believe we have gotten more calls from people wanting the help. Drug use is a sickness, a lot of people say, and we want to help them get better. We're there to help them. We want to be able to help first - not hurt. And we won't want them to not call because they're afraid of getting in trouble for using drugs or having drugs in their possession."

There are some parameters as to just how much of a drug you can be in possession of and still avoid prosecution. But nine times out of ten, you’ll be protected by the Good Samaritan Law.

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