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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: October 4, 2018 08:20 AM
From: Representative Carolyn T. Comitta
To: All House members
Subject: Alcohol and Opioid Overdoses: Immunity for Victims
In the near future, I will introduce two (2) pieces of legislation to help address the alcohol and opioid epidemic. The opioid epidemic has proven to be the biggest public health crisis in a generation. Too many among us have witnessed firsthand its ravaging effects on our family, friends, neighbors, and children. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 2,235 opioid-related deaths in Pennsylvania at the close of 2016. Equally shocking is the number of alcohol-related deaths amongst underage drinkers, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, totals more than 4,300 annually. These numbers are unacceptable. As representatives of the citizens of Pennsylvania, it falls upon us to take action to ensure overdose victims are given every possible opportunity for a second chance.

The General Assembly has taken steps over the last decade to incentivize the reporting of overdoses. In 2011, a “Good Samaritan” immunity provision was added to Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to provide legal protection for individuals who seek help for a victim of an alcohol-related overdose. In 2014, an additional “Good Samaritan” provision was added to the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, providing likewise immunity for individuals seeking help for a victim of an opioid-related overdose. These provisions have undoubtedly saved lives by emphasizing the life of the victim over the punishment of minor offenses.

These two pieces of legislation proposes to simply extend these immunity protections to victims in any case, including cases of self-reporting and “Good Samaritan” intervention. Victims have been overlooked far too long and deserve compassion rather than punishment for making their best attempt to survive.

I ask that you join me in co-sponsoring both of these vital and timely pieces of legislation. Thank you.

Document #1

Introduced as HB2720

Description: Proposal #1 - The first proposal amends Title 18 to provide immunity to underage victims of an alcohol overdose.

Document #2

Introduced as HB2719

Description: Proposal #2 - The second piece of legislation amends the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to provide immunity to victims of a drug overdose.