Tell Mayor Gray and DC City Council: Stop Drug Overdose Death, Pass The Good Samaritan Act
Dear Mayor Gray and DC City Council Members,
We, the undersigned, applaud the continuing efforts of the DC government to be a model for the nation and pass supportive harm reduction policies. To continue the intent of DC government to prevent accidental death, we support the passage of a Good Samaritan law, so that someone who seeks help for oneself or others or receives help for an alcohol or other drug-related emergency would not be charged with drug possession. Passing this act would save, on average, two lives a week from accidental drug-related overdose.
In a 2009 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), researchers found that “drug and alcohol abuse rates are higher in the District of Columbia than anywhere else in the country” (SAMHSA, 2011). As a result, accidental drug-related overdose in DC accounted for 50% more deaths than traffic accidents.
Thankfully, future deaths are preventable.
Fear of police intervention is the number one reason why witnesses of drug overdose do not call 911 immediately. Providing immunity from prosecution for simple drug possession to people in situations when someone must receive life-saving intervention encourages early and successful medical help.
Overdose deaths rarely occur immediately. Rather, most deaths occur one to three hours after initial use, providing a window for the victim to receive medical intervention. A Good Samaritan law would promote immediate calls to 911, which would result in more overdose reversals.
Of course, the purpose of our alcohol and drug laws is to protect the public. It is an unfortunate unintended consequence of these policies that we've placed a chilling effect on people calling for help when help is needed. A Good Samaritan law provides us with a common sense solution that will show the people of the District of Columbia that we have the right priorities when it comes to addressing the harms of drug and alcohol abuse. Washington, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Mexico have already adopted such a life-saving law. Enacting a Good Samaritan law in our own home will save many lives in the District of Columbia, possibly even the life of someone you know.
Please vote ‘yes’ and pass DC’s Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act.