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New law protects those reporting drug overdoses

Michigan may soon be signing a bill into law that may provide some exceptional protections to anyone who reports an overdose, regardless of the substance used. Under the new law, individuals of any age who report an overdose will be exempt from facing any charges of possession. These protections will even apply to reporters who may be under the influence themselves or need medical attention.

Similar laws are already on the books, such as 2015 legislation that granted protections to under-21 individuals who report overdoses related to prescription drugs or painkillers. There is also protection already extended to underage individuals who report that they are in danger because of alcohol consumption. This new legislation would additionally provide some protection from prosecution to individuals of any age who report an overdose stemming from more heavily regulated substances like narcotics.

This bill has been introduced in the wake of a spike in reported overdoses throughout Michigan, increasing 14 percent in 2104 after steadily rising for many years prior. The bill joins similar "Good Samaritan" bills that have been enacted in recent years by 37 other states. Sen. Coleman Young II of Detroit, a supporter of the bill, notes that the legislation is "about people who are overdosing and someone trying to take that person to the hospital and not be charged. That's neighborliness. That's being a Good Samaritan."

Drug use can have very serious consequences, both in its effects on users' health and community and also in potential criminal punishments. If someone you know is experiencing a drug overdose, do not hesitate to get that person the medical help they need immediately. If you face legal consequences, an experienced lawyer can help you explore the options while ensuring that your rights remain protected.

Source: Huron Daily Tribune, "Michigan nears providing immunity for all overdose calls," David Eggert, Associated Press, Sep. 08, 2016

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