A new Missouri law makes it easier to call for help if someone witnesses an overdose without the worry of getting into legal trouble.
Harvest Outreach Ministries runs a sober living home in Hannibal with almost 30 beds. Pastor James Bridges said most of the people there are recovering opioid addicts.
On Wednesday, Bridges said he supports new legislation that aims to make sure people who overdose survive. He said the Good Samaritan Law is personal for him.
“I support the Good Samaritan Law.” Bridges said. “As an ex-addict myself I had a drug overdose many years ago, and at that time, everybody was so scared to report it, that they actually left me laying.”
The law allows people witnessing an overdose to call for help without the fear of getting into legal trouble for drug possession.
Missouri Representative Craig Redmon (4th District) said it can save lives.
“This law as I see it is more about protecting human life.” Redmon said. “If somebody gets in trouble you don’t want somebody sitting there going ‘well if I call the police I could get arrested’, you want them to have the knowledge and the ability to just make that call.”
Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn wasn’t available for an on-camera interview, but he said he’s afraid some residents and lawyers will take advantage of the new law.
Redmon said the law is a necessary first step to help end the opioid crisis.
“There’s always people out there that are going to scam the system as best they can.” Redmon said. “And that probably will happen with this law, but when you’re talking about saving someone’s life versus scamming the law, we can always change that law.”
Redmon added that changes may include making the law stricter or less invasive.
Bridges said at this point, he’s just happy the law is in effect.
“We’ve got to do anything.” Bridges said. “I mean anything is better than doing nothing, and I just want to see our state and our community rise up and help battle this problem because it is taking the lives of our families.”
Redmon also said that while he thinks the new law is a step in the right direction, the battle to fight the opioid epidemic has only just begun.
By Patrick Doss | WGEM