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Bill to Protect Overdose Victims Advances in Senate

Ashton Marra
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators amended a bill in committee Thursday they felt contained too many loopholes for people seeking emergency assistance during a drug overdose.

Senate Bill 419 is known as the Overdose Prevention Act.

After interim study and recommendation by the Joint Committee on Health, it originally provided immunities for certain offenses for a person who seeks medical help for him or herself or aide for another person who is experiencing an overdose, but some senators were worried the immunities were too broad.

“We want to encourage people to make the call, but we don’t want making the call to give them broad based immunities from their own bad acts,” said Sen. Evan Jenkins during a Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday.

“We’re substantially limiting from the original bill those bad acts that you can be immune from if you make the call.”

Committee counsel Kevin Baker clarified the immunity extends only to someone calling on behalf of another person in need of assistance.

He said a person can also only avoid certain misdemeanor charges, like simple possession of a controlled substance or underage drinking, and not felony offenses like possession with the intent to deliver.

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