Amnesty law made to combat addiction and end overdose deaths


North Dakota lawmakers approved changes to the Good Samaritan Law to make room for overdose prevention.

This provision grants immunity to those who report and seek, in good faith, medical attention for a person suffering from an overdose.

I spoke with law enforcement to see how and why this would have a positive impact in our state.

“We’ve recognized that we can’t incarcerate our way out of a drug addiction,” Aaron Moss, senior officer with Minot Police said.

What began as the Alcohol Amnesty Law, otherwise known as the Good Samaritan Law, has evolved over the years.

Most recently, the law has expanded to include ‘overdose prevention and immunity.”

“We need to continue to keep people alive rather than just continually throw the book at them, so to speak,” Moss said.

This means that people who are experiencing or reporting an overdose are immune from prosecution for drug charges related to the incident.

This is only if the people involved provide information to assist with medical services.

That could be explaining the type of drug, how much was taken, and when.

Moss said, “We can’t help people as law enforcement, as a medical establishment, as a society, if they’re dying from overdoses.”

Amnesty laws have been a part of the North Dakota century code for more than 10 years.

On college campuses, administration feels similar guidelines should also be included in the code of conduct.

“If they see a friend in need, it’s really important for them to not be scared for their own disciplinary outcomes, but more so focused on getting someone the help that they need,” Director of Residence Life at Minot State, Devin Mccall, said.

The Minot State Handbook states that ‘the university will not discipline a student who makes a good faith report of prohibited conduct.’

“The fact that you’re given that amnesty it removes a lot of threat and allows you to assist your friends when it’s a serious situation. You don’t want to risk someone’s life just because you don’t want to get in trouble,” Carlton Mhangami, a student at MSU, said.

Officer Moss said that the department has gotten a handful of good faith reports since the law went into effect last summer, but that with awareness, hopefully this law can continue to save lives.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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