New Jersey law protects overdose patients from prosecution

Friday, May 3, 2013 - 10:45am

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law Thursday that encourages people to report drug overdoses without fear of being arrested, a measure he says will help save lives.

"Leaders of this state want them to save a life first, not worry about anything else thereafter," he said. "First to save a life and in return, the deal we'll make with them is we won't prosecute them, we won't arrest them."

The Overdose Protection Act applies to those who seek medical help for themselves or someone else experiencing a drug overdose. The bill was passed 24-1 in the New Jersey Senate on Monday and will also eliminate legal action against those who administer overdose antidotes in life-threatening situations.

Singer Jon Bon Jovi joined Christie for the law's signing at a drug rehabilitation center in Paterson, New Jersey. Drug prevention advocates and family members of those who lost their lives to drug overdoses also attended.

"I hope that Gov. Christie's actions here will cause other states to stand up and to pay attention and also to follow in his footsteps," Bon Jovi said.

Bon Jovi's daughter Stephanie reportedly overdosed on heroin in November 2012 in her upstate New York dorm. Misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance or the use of drug paraphernalia were later dropped because New York has a similar protection law.

"On behalf of those individuals and their families whose lives will be saved by this important legislation, I want to thank Gov. Christie and the New Jersey Legislature for passing the Good Samaritan bill," Bon Jovi said.

According to Drug Policy Alliance, New Jersey joins 11 states and the District of Columbia with similar protection laws.

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