Good Samaritan Law for Ovedoses is clarified, effect 8/1/15

When you call 911 for help for a drug overdose, you and the person who overdoses are immune from prosecution for simple possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, et cetera.  Contraband will be seized by the police, but possession of 1 gram or less shall not be prosecuted, pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 90-96.2. Limited Immunity for Samaritan. – A person shall not be prosecuted for any of the offenses listed in subsection (c3) of this section if all of the following requirements and conditions are met:
  • (1) The person sought medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose by contacting the 911 system, a law enforcement officer, or emergency medical services personnel.
  • (2) The person acted in good faith when seeking medical assistance, upon a reasonable belief that he or she was the first to call for assistance. (3) The person provided his or her own name to the 911 system or to a law enforcement officer upon arrival.
  • (4) The person did not seek the medical assistance during the course of the execution of an arrest warrant, search warrant, or other lawful search. Page 2 Session Law 2015-94 Senate Bill 154-Ratified
  • (5) The evidence for prosecution of the offenses listed in subsection (c3) of this section was obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance for the drug-related overdose.
The immunity described in subsection (b) of this section shall extend to the person who experienced the drug-related overdose if all of the requirements and conditions listed in subdivisions (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subsection (b) of this section are satisfied. Full text of the updated statute: Good Samaritan Law Clarified Read more "Good Samaritan Law for Ovedoses is clarified, effect 8/1/15"

Narcan Opiate Overdose Emergency Kits Available for FREE

The Harm Reduction Coalition of of Asheville is providing much needed Narcan kits for those in need in Asheville.  They have kits that consist of two vials of Narcan and syringes with instructions, and they have a few kits of Narcan Auto injectors, for people who are not comfortable with needles.   You can buy Narcan kits at Pharmacies, but the auto injector kits are expensive, running $700-$800 .  This is life saving technology available for free.

Confidential Contacts for information and kits.

What is Narcan™ (naloxone)?

Narcan™ (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. Opioids include heroin and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin. When a person is overdosing on an opioid, breathing can slow down or stop and it can very hard to wake them from this state. Narcan™ (naloxone) is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. It cannot be used to get a person high. If given to a person who has not taken opioids, it will not have any effect on him or her, since there is no opioid overdose to reverse.

How does Narcan™ (naloxone) work? 

If a person has taken opioids and is then given Narcan™ (naloxone), the opioids will be knocked out of the opiate receptors in the brain. Narcan™ (naloxone) can help even if opioids are taken with alcohol or other drugs. After a dose of  Narcan™ (naloxone), the person should begin to breathe more normally and it will become easier to wake them. It is very important to give help to an overdosing person right away. Brain damage can occur within only a few minutes of an opioid overdose as the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain. Narcan™ (naloxone) gives concerned helpers a window of opportunity to save a life by providing extra time to call 911 and carry out rescue breathing and first aid until emergency medical help arrives.

Doesn’t a person need to be a medical professional to be able to spot a serious overdose and give Narcan™?  Research has shown that with basic training, nonmedical professionals, such as friends, family members or even concerned bystanders, can recognize when an overdose is occurring and give Narcan™ (naloxone), and in North Carolina, you are protected from civil liability for giving Narcan by the Good Samaritan Law.

 NCGS § 90-96.2 Good Samaritan/ Naloxone Access law, effective April 9, 2013, states that individuals who experience a drug overdose or persons who witness an overdose and seek help for the victim can no longer be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of drugs, paraphernalia, or underage drinking.  The purpose of the law is to remove the fear of criminal repercussions for calling 911 to report an overdose, and to instead focus efforts on getting help to the victim. The Naloxone Access portion of  NCGS § 90-96.2 removes civil liabilities from doctors who prescribe and bystanders who administer naloxone, or Narcan, an opiate antidote which reverses drug overdose from opiates, thereby saving the life of the victim.  NCGS § 90-96.2 also allows community based organizations to dispense Narcan under the guidance of a medical provider. As a result, officers may encounter people who use opiates and their loved ones carrying overdose reversal kits that may include Narcan vials, 3cc syringes, rescue breathing masks and alcohol pads.

Is the use of naloxone by non-medical people controversial?

No.  Recently the American Medical Association endorsed the training of lay people in the use of Narcan (naloxone) to prevent overdoses.  Also the director of Office of National Drug Control Policy,Gil Kerlikowski (the U.S. Drug Czar), remarked that naloxone distribution is a key component of overdose prevention.

Can Narcan™ (naloxone) harm a person?       

No. Narcan™ (naloxone) only affects people who are using opioids. If a person is not having an overdose but has been using opioids, Narcan™ (naloxone) will put them into immediate withdrawal. This can be very uncomfortable for the person, but is not life threatening.

Read more "Narcan Opiate Overdose Emergency Kits Available for FREE"

Overdose Awareness Free Naxolone Training & Kits August 29, 2015 6:30-9pm, Firestorm Books 610 Haywood Rd.

Free Narcan Kits and Training Saturday, 8/29 6:30-9 at Firestorm Book Store at 610 Haywood Rd. Drop in for a few minutes and save a life. Narcan is treatment for opiate overdose that is safe, fast acting, and effective. Narcan is legal to give to anyone who has OD'd on Heroin, Fentanyl, Morphine, Oxy - most opiates. Life saving information and life saving medicine. If someone you love is an opiate user, you need to be there.   In preparation for International Overdose Awareness Day (8/31), the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will be hosting a drop-in naloxone training. Kits will be distributed to participants at no cost. Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medication called an “opioid antagonist” used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, for example morphine and heroin overdose. Specifically, naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication.  Citizens who give Narcan to someone who has overdosed is protected from civil liability under the Good Samaritan Law which also protects users from prosecution when they call for medical aid. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) is North Carolina’s only comprehensive harm reduction program. NCHRC engages in grassroots advocacy, resource development, coalition building and direct services for law enforcement and those made vulnerable by drug use, sex work, overdose, immigration status, gender, STIs, HIV and hepatitis. Firestorm Books & Coffee
610 Haywood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806
https://www.facebook.com/events/492684954221185/
  Read more "Overdose Awareness Free Naxolone Training & Kits August 29, 2015 6:30-9pm, Firestorm Books 610 Haywood Rd."

A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment.

Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. __ (April 21, 2015). A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment. After an officer completed a traffic stop, including issuing the driver a warning ticket and returning all documents, the officer asked for permission to walk his police dog around the vehicle. The driver said no. Nevertheless, the officer instructed the driver to turn off his car, exit the vehicle and wait for a second officer. When the second officer arrived, the first officer retrieved his dog and led it around the car, during which time the dog alerted to the presence of drugs. A search of the vehicle revealed a large bag of methamphetamine. All told, 7-8 minutes elapsed from the time the officer issued the written warning until the dog’s alert. The defendant was charged with a drug crime and unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence seized from his car, arguing that the officer prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion to conduct the dog sniff. The defendant was convicted and appealed. The Eighth Circuit held that the de minimus extension of the stop was permissible. The Supreme Court granted certiorari “to resolve a division among lower courts on the question whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff.”

The Court reasoned that an officer may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, but “he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.” The Court noted that during a traffic stop, beyond determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, an officer’s mission includes “ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic] stop” such as checking the driver’s license, determining whether the driver has outstanding warrants, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of insurance. It explained: “These checks serve the same objective as enforcement of the traffic code: ensuring that vehicles on the road are operated safely and responsibly.” A dog sniff by contrast “is a measure aimed at detect[ing] evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” (quotation omitted). It continued: “Lacking the same close connection to roadway safety as the ordinary inquiries, a dog sniff is not fairly characterized as part of the officer’s traffic mission.”

Noting that the Eighth Circuit’s de minimus rule relied heavily on Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977) (per curiam) (reasoning that the government’s “legitimate and weighty” interest in officer safety outweighs the “de minimis” additional intrusion of requiring a driver, already lawfully stopped, to exit the vehicle), the Court distinguished Mimms:

Unlike a general interest in criminal enforcement, however, the government’s officer safety interest stems from the mission of the stop itself. Traffic stops are “especially fraught with danger to police officers,” so an officer may need to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to complete his mission safely. On-scene investigation into other crimes, however, detours from that mission. So too do safety precautions taken in order to facilitate such detours. Thus, even assuming that the imposition here was no more intrusive than the exit order in Mimms, the dog sniff could not be justified on the same basis. Highway and officer safety are interests different in kind from the Government’s endeavor to detect crime in general or drug trafficking in particular. (citations omitted)

The Court went on to reject the Government’s argument that an officer may “incremental[ly]” prolong a stop to conduct a dog sniff so long as the officer is reasonably diligent in pursuing the traffic-related purpose of the stop, and the overall duration of the stop remains reasonable in relation to the duration of other traffic stops involving similar circumstances. The Court dismissed the notion that “by completing all traffic-related tasks expeditiously, an officer can earn bonus time to pursue an unrelated criminal investigation.” It continued:

If an officer can complete traffic-based inquiries expeditiously, then that is the amount of “time reasonably required to complete [the stop’s] mission.” As we said in Caballes and reiterate today, a traffic stop “prolonged beyond” that point is “unlawful.” The critical question, then, is not whether the dog sniff occurs before or after the officer issues a ticket . . . but whether conducting the sniff “prolongs”—i.e., adds time to—“the stop”. (citations omitted).

In this case, the trial court ruled that the defendant’s detention for the dog sniff was not independently supported by individualized suspicion. Because the Court of Appeals did not review that determination the Court remanded for a determination by that court as to whether reasonable suspicion of criminal activity justified detaining the defendant beyond completion of the traffic infraction investigation.

Author:

Jessica Smith

W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor

School of Government

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CB 3330, Knapp-Sanders Building

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330

T: 919.966.4105  |  http://www.sog.unc.edu/user/150

Follow me on Twitter

Read more "A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment."

New Good Samaritan Law may be tested.

 Man drops off body at mission hospital.  His lips were blue. Every day in the United States, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the misuse or abuse of drugs.[i] The State of North Carolina has recognized that sometimes the only people to witness an overdose are themselves using illegal drugs, and they may be afraid to call for help because they may get in trouble.  That is changing.  Good Samaritans have some legal protection in drug and alcohol overdose cases under a new law, as of April 2013 in North Carolina[ii].  If you witness someone experiencing an overdose from cocaine, heroin, or alcohol, and they need medical attention, call 911 for help and stay with them.  A new law that is designed to save lives, give protection to someone who acts in good faith to get medical treatment for someone experiencing a "drug-related overdose" meaning an acute condition, including mania, hysteria, extreme physical illness, coma, or death or conditions that a layperson would reasonably believe need immediate medical assistance.  The Good Samaritan shall not be prosecuted[iii] for misdemeanor drug possession, misdemeanor drug paraphernalia, felony possession of up to one gram of heroin or 1 gram of cocaine.  The same scheme applies to underage drinkers. When someone overdoses on opiates, including heroin, they may turn blue in their lips and nails, become unresponsive to screaming and shaking, stop breathing, have seizures and even die.[iv]  Sometimes they can be saved with an injection of Naloxone Hydrochloride, a fast acting opiate antagonist.  This law grants limited immunity to “anyone in a position to assist” who in good faith does assist by providing Naloxone to a person who overdoses on opiates. The related laws for underage drinking grant similar protections for underage drinkers who call for help for a friend who has drank too much, and needs medical help.  If you call for medical help under the good faith exception, you shall not be prosecuted for underage possession or consumption of alcohol. Bottom line, if someone needs immediate medical help, call for help.  When you call 911 for an ambulance, the police may come too.  The police may seize things they see in plain view that are contraband or illegal to possess, but at the end of the day, if you are a Good Samaritan acting in good faith to save someone from an overdose of heroin, cocaine or alcohol, you will not be prosecuted under the new laws.  Please tell your kids about this, they are the ones who are in real danger. Note: this is not blanket immunity from prosecution of all crimes.  The police will still do their job.  This new law gives limited immunity from some but not all drug crimes.  If you have questions, call us.  We are here to help. [i] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html [ii] § 90-96.2 (possession of 1 gram or less of heroin, cocaine or related drug paraphernalia ) and§ 18B-302.2 (underage alcohol possession/consumption) [iii] http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S20v7.pdf [iv] Wikipedia Opioid Overdose Contact us. [contact-form subject='blog contact'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form] Read more "New Good Samaritan Law may be tested."