Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6554

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FOR PERSONS EXPERIENCING A DRUG OVERDOSE.

Vote Date:

4/14/2011

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/14/2011

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Rep. Rebimbas brought this issue to the attention of the Judiciary Committee. People may be reluctant to make necessary emergency calls summoning medical assistance for people suffering a drug overdose because they fear that seeking such assistance will lead to prosecution for the illegal possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. This bill would provide for immunity for those who, in good faith, seek medical assistance for another person who is experiencing a drug-related overdose.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Expressed.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut Police Chiefs Association: Although the Police Chiefs Association supports encouraging people to seek emergency aid, they are concerned this measure might become a “get-out-of-jail-free pass for dopers”.

Nicolas Payne: Supports this bill as it is a “step in the right direction” to legalizing marijuana.

Mary Marcuccio: Supports this bill because current laws regarding substance abuse and treatment are broken. People are discouraged from calling for medical help when it is most needed because they fear the criminal consequences.

Lynn Gambardella: Ms. Gambardella called the police after finding her son unresponsive due to a drug overdose. When the police arrived, her son was arrested and was convicted of a felony. Had she known this would happen, she would have only allowed the EMTs, and not the police, into her home. She believes something needs to be done to change this existing law and therefore she supports this bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Christopher J. O'Brien: Although the intent of this bill is to save lives, the implications of enacting this bill will have the opposite effect. More people will remain addicted to dangerous drugs and therefore possibly lose their lives. As a paramedic, Mr. O'Brien has rarely, if ever, witnessed a doper arrested when the primary reason for a 911 call was for medical assistance. In fact, the coercive threat of arrest is a tool often used to encourage individuals to go to the hospital that otherwise would not. The language of this bill fully decriminalizes the possession of any drug simply by requesting treatment at a hospital. This will lead to abuse of the EMS system as a 'get out of jail free' card.

Reported by: Meredith Blake

Date: April 25, 2011