Learning about the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

A photo of a needle and various prescription pills are shown.
A needle and various prescription pills are shown. Photo from Pxhere.
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Wellington County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are raising awareness about the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

The federal government introduced this law in 2017, due to the growing number of overdoses, especially fatal overdoses, across the country.

Const. Kirk MacDonald with Wellington County OPP said a lot of the fatal overdoses have to do with the increase use of opioids, in particular fentanyl.

“What was happening is that individuals would panic or be concerned that they would get in trouble if a friend or someone they were with had an overdose, and as a result they would leave without contacting anybody for help, and sadly, often times people would pass away,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said this law protects individuals from any sort of prosecution if they call for help, stay and assist someone that is experiencing an overdose.

“In regards to possessing any drugs that are found at the scene, or for violating any conditions of a person’s parole or probation when it comes to simple drug possession,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said the number one priority is that we preserve life, and that takes a priority over any sort of drug charges.

But Const. MacDonald said there are some exceptions to this law.

“[…] The law will not protect someone, for example, for trafficking illegal drugs, or any other offences other than drug possession, or any outstanding warrants,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said often times there’s a stigma when it comes to drug use.

“What we’re finding is that sometimes people always think somebody that is having a drug overdose a criminal or somebody that might have been living on the streets. But the reality is, we are responding to overdoses with all walks of life,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald added that sometimes the situation is an accidental overdose.

“And that could be simply from either mixing prescription pills or taking something with the prescription, like alcohol for example,” MacDonald said.

He said the other thing that OPP often sees is someone might be using what they believe to be a drug, such as methamphetamine or cocaine, but they don’t realize it’s actually mixed with fentanyl.

MacDonald said just two milligrams of pure fentanyl, about the size of 4 grains of salt, is enough to kill an adult.

He added that the main message the OPP wants to get out, is that if you see an overdose, call 911, and ensure someone gets the help that they need.

Const. Kirk MacDonald with Wellington County OPP: