New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Thursday signed into law a measure that encourages people to report drug overdoses. The law allows people to call 911 to report a drug overdose, without the fear of getting arrested for drug possession themselves.
Governor Christie was joined by singer Jon Bon Jovi for the signing of the law. Bon Jovi’s daughter overdosed at her college dorm in upstate New York last year, but survived. Prosecutors dropped drug charges against her and another student under that state’s Good Samaritan overdose-reporting law, according to the Associated Press.
“What we now have is a comprehensive law we can all be proud of for what it can achieve, the saving of a life to provide the opportunity for individuals, their families, friends and those Good Samaritans involved to reflect on their experience in a way that they probably would have never reflected upon it before,” Christie said in a statement. “A life saved from drug abuse can be a life restored. Families can be spared the anguish of loss, a loss that could have been prevented.”
After signing the law, Governor Christie and Bon Jovi visited with patients at a drug rehabilitation center.
The governor rejected the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act last fall, saying it was too focused on reporting drug overdoses, instead of deterrence. On Monday, he partially vetoed a bill that makes the overdose antidote naloxone available to spouses, parents and guardians of people addicted to opioid. They would be taught to administer the drug in an emergency. He recommended that measure be combined with the key components of the Good Samaritan bill that protects witnesses and victims from arrest, charge, prosecution, conviction, or revocation of parole or probation, where evidence is obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance.
The state Senate and House both overwhelmingly approved the compromise bill.