Advocates urge Mills to sign Good Samaritan bill

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A group of public health advocates and their legislative allies are urging Gov. Janet Mills to sign a bill that will strengthen the state’s Good Samaritan law concerning drug-related medical assistance.

The say the bill would empower people to call for help to report an overdose without fear of criminal consequences.

The bill has been approved by the House and Senate, but Mills asked lawmakers to take it back for revisions under threat of veto saying it is too broad.

The current Good Samaritan law went into effect in 2019 and protects the person who calls 911 for help and the person experiencing an overdose.

Advocates for the new bill say the current law is not enough, and all individuals at the site of an overdose should be shielded from arrest or prosecution for most crimes.

“There seems to be a lot of things going around this bill that focus more on how we’re going to arrest our way out of a problem that we haven’t been able to arrest our way out of yet. The main issue in this bill is that we’re trying to save lives,” said Ryan Paige, Maine Recovery Advocacy Project.

“People who experience a medical emergency do best when emergency resuscitation happens quickly,” said Rep. Patricia Hymanson, D-York.

Mills says she would sign the bill if it only expanded immunity to those who provide aid at the scene of an overdose.

Maine saw a record number of overdose deaths in 2021 with 626 lives lost.

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