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New Florida law provides medical amnesty in drug overdose cases

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A new Florida law, which went into effect Monday, will offer protection to anyone who might be leery of calling the police to report a drug overdose.

The law, known as the 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Act, says if a person who has experienced or witnessed an overdose seeks medical assistance they cannot be charged, prosecuted or penalized for the possession of a controlled substance. If the controlled substance isn’t related to the call, the people involved may still be prosecuted.

According to a 2010 report from the Florida Governor’s Office of Drug Control’s website, seven Floridians die every day due to prescription drug overdose.

According to a copy of the act found on the Florida Senate’s website, research has found that another person is present in a majority of fatal overdose cases. In one-third of those cases, the witness knew that the person who was experiencing an overdose was in distress.

Maureen Miller, the director of GatorWell at the University of Florida, said calls might also not come in because people often underestimate the situation.

“Our message is just always air on the side of caution,” she said.

Florida is one of several states to pass as law like this one. Other states with similar legislation include Washington and New Mexico.

Paige Parrinelli edited this story online.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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  • julie stephaine

    Truly these is something which could be very useful to the public !