In this Aug. 31, 2021, file photo, a woman photographs memorial lanterns for overdose victims on a bridge in downtown Caribou. Credit: Hannah Catlin / Aroostook Republican & News

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An estimated 635 Mainers lost their lives due to drug overdoses in 2021. Each of these deaths was preventable. It is therefore essential that we use every available tool to shift our response to the overdose epidemic away from the current criminalization model to one emphasizing public health.

One such strategy is expansion of the Good Samaritan law. Right now, Maine’s Good Samaritan law only shields the person experiencing an overdose and a person who calls for help from some limited crimes. That means others at the scene of an overdose are at risk of criminal prosecution when emergency services arrive to provide life saving aid. We have to expand the law so people don’t have to choose between calling emergency services and risking prosecution, or attempting to intervene on their own. Expanding Maine’s Good Samaritan law reflects working Mainer’s solidarity with individuals living with substance use disorders.

Accordingly, Maine’s workers must make themselves heard. We must demand that the state expand its Good Samaritan law to shield those at the scene of an overdose from criminal prosecution for non-violent offenses. Please support the Good Samaritan bill so together we can empower Mainer’s to save lives. This can be done by speaking with your legislators or submitting testimony in favor of LD 1862. More resources for supporting expansion of the Good Samaritan law can be found here:

The expansion of the Good Samaritan law will protect Mainers who save lives, providing a loved one with another chance at life.

Matt Gunn