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In April 2015 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed that the number of cases of unintentional overdose in 2014 represents a 33% increase over 2012 and a 3.3% increase over 2013. Some of these deaths could have been prevented by calling 911.

Massachusetts Technical Assistance Partnership for Prevention [MassTaPP] suggests that fear of prosecution for drug related offenses often prevent witnesses from reporting a drug overdose.

The 911 Good Samaritan Law provides protection to witnesses who seek medical assistance for someone or for themselves who are experiencing a drug-related overdose. M.G.L. c. 94C, §§ 34A helps to reduce overdose deaths by removing barriers to calling 911 for medical assistance, a crucial step in saving the life of someone experiencing an overdose.

”A person who experiences a drug-related overdose and is in need of medical assistance and, in good faith, seeks such medical assistance, or is the subject of such a good faith request for medical assistance, shall not be charged or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance under said sections 34 or 35, if the evidence for the charge of possession of a controlled substance was gained as a result of the overdose and the need for medical assistance”. M.G.L. c. 94C, §§ 34A(b)

The act of seeking medical assistance for someone who is experiencing a drug-related overdose may be used as a mitigating factor in a criminal prosecution under the Controlled Substance Act, 1970 P.L. 91?513, 21 U.S.C. section 801, et seq.

Nothing contained in §34A shall prevent anyone from being charged with trafficking, distribution or possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Massachusetts Helplines, provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, offers resources to answer your questions, and help you find treatment in your community. Assistance is available without insurance.

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