People seeking medical assistance for drug overdoses in the District will soon have more legal protections. Many people who witness overdoses are reluctant to call 911 because they're afraid of being arrested, advocates say.
The act would give these callers immunity for drug possession and related minor offenses in an effort to reduce deaths from overdosing. It also requires an educational campaign and the collection of data to monitor changes in the causes and rates of overdoses in the District.
Critics say the act is unnecessary and could be exploited to allow illegal conduct. The bill has been approved unanimously by the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor. It will become law after a review by Congress.
So far, ten states have adopted similar harm reduction laws aimed at preventing overdosing deaths.