A bill that would provide legal immunity for people who call 911 to help someone overdosed on illegal drugs just passed the state senate, with only one dissenting vote, from Sen. Mike Carrell (R-28). The bill now goes to the state house of representatives.
Sponsored by state senator Rosa Franklin (D-29), ESB 5516 says, "A person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug-related overdose shall not be charged or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance."
I've written about the problem in this feature about a girl who died because no one took her to the hospital:
Danielle's seizure lasted about five minutes, and after it ended she appeared to fall asleep. Other people began going to sleep in various rooms of the house. Some members of the group said they woke up at 6:30 a.m., but others claimed it wasn't until 8:30 a.m. that Ryan Mills started dinging a cowbell to wake the group. Danielle looked terrible. Her face was cold to the touch; her lips were blue. So, once again, the group had to make a decision. They could call 911, they could drive Danielle to the hospital, or they could take matters into their own hands.
Bills of this sort have been introduced for years in Washington state but stalled every time—burdened by the typical controversy surrounding any measure to decrease penalties for possessing illegal drugs—often failing to even make it out of committee. But support has snowballed in recent years as a life-saving measure, particularly given a spiking rate of opiate overdoses (.pdf).
This bill also expands access to naloxone, an opiate antagonist that reverses overdoses from opiates.