What is the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act?

November 21, 2018. Article by: Government of BC

Seconds matter when someone is overdosing. The first step in responding to an overdose is calling 9-1-1. But when grappling with the fear of being arrested, the choice to call 9-1-1 for help may not feel so straight-forward.

That’s why it’s important to know…

People who call 9-1-1 at the scene of an overdose and help someone experiencing an overdose have some legal protection under the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

What charges does the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protect people from? 

The act protects people from:

  • simple drug possession charges. This means a person can’t be charged or arrested for carrying illegal drugs for their own personal use.
  • charges for breaching court conditions when the only charge was simple possession. This means a person can’t be charged or arrested if violating a condition of parole, pre-trial release, probation, or conditional sentence for past charges related to simple possession.

Who does the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protect?

  • the person experiencing an overdose.
  • the person who calls for help.
  • anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.

What isn’t protected by the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act?

The act does not protect people at the scene of an overdose from charges or arrest if they:

  • are in possession of illegal drugs they intend to sell.
  • are in the act of selling illegal drugs or committing a more serious offense (like robbery or assault)
  • are violating a condition of parole, pre-trial release, probation, or conditional sentence for a past offense that is anything other than simple possession.
  • have an outstanding warrant for their arrest.

Calling 9-1-1 when someone is experiencing an overdose can save their life. Get informed – click here to learn the signs of an overdose and how to respond.

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