California legislators this week passed a bill that would allow drug users to seek medical attention without having to worry about getting arrested for being high or possessing a personal amount of an illegal substance. People helping the user get treatment would be granted the same immunity. Known as the “911 Good Samaritan” law, the policy is intended to prevent drug overdoses.
The bill, which passed both chambers with bipartisan support and awaits Gov. Jerry Brown's signature, would make California the 11th state to enact a 911 Good Samaritan policy (or the 12th, depending on whether Brown beats New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the dotted line).
Somewhat counterintuitively, the bill impacts the behavior of drug users more than that of police officers. A 2011 University of Washington study (the state passed the law in 2010), found that drug users in the presence of an overdose often feared calling 911. Police officers, however, reported that they rarely made possession arrests in such situations.
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