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Good Samaritan Resolution Wins Council Approval

Statement urges the General Assembly to override governor's veto of measure allowing treatment rather than punishment for drug overdose victims and those who help them.

By unanimous vote, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council approved a resolution at its Tuesday night business meeting at Town Hall urging the New Jersey legislature to once again take up the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act.

The measure would offer limited immunity from prosecution to those who suffer a drug overdose and to those who call 911 while trying to assist someone experiencing a drug overdose.

The legislation, with bipartisan support, was passed by both the General Assembly and the state Senate last year. But in October, Gov. Christie vetoed the bill and instead called for an 18-month period to research the issue further. 

The council's act makes Parsippany the 11th New Jersey town officially to pass a resolution asking state lawmakers to override the governor's veto. The other towns are Roxbury, Audubon, Haddon Heights, Red Bank, National Park, Maple Shade, Gloucester Township, Magnolia, Raritan and Flemington. Ten states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and Washington—have similar laws in place.

For the legislature to override Christie's veto, a revived Good Samaritan bill would have to garner two-thirds of the votes in each chamber: 54 in the Assembly and, in the Senate, 27. 

According to the Par-Troy resolution's text, overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the Garden State. More than 6,000 New Jersey residents have died from drug overdoses since 2004.

Resident Deb Archambault, who experienced the horror of drug abuse up close during her son's personal experience and subsequent recovery, brought the matter to the attention of the council. She was on hand to see the resolution's passage.

"This is great news," she told Patch, noting that the only council member who responded to her initial plea was Jonathan Nelson. "If it were not for him, this would have never come about."

"This resolution is a good thing," said Nelson after the meeting. "It will help end preventable deaths."

The misuse of illegal and prescription drugs is close to the minds of many in Parsippany, which experienced four overdoses in 2012, according to Parsippany Police. The township's Municipal Alliance Committee held a Drug Prevention Leadership Summit late last year in an effort to focus attention on the problem of drug abuse in the community.

Darch January 17, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Parsippany is actually the 18th not the 11th municipality to pass this resolution!
Natalie Davis January 17, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Really? I thought I had found them all. Do you by chance have a list of the ones I missed? Thanks so much!!!
Kimberly January 17, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Us "drug addicts" do have a choice to pick up for the first time,but anything after that no longer becomes a choice but an everyday struggle..addiction is a serious disease&this bill being passed is important everyday peoples children,brothers,sisters,mothers&fathers,aunts,uncles,friends & cousins are dying and alot of accidental deaths could be avoided. Addicts are not bad people, we jyst made some poor choices in life as many humans often do so clyde you should do some research on addiction and maybe you would understand the importance of this law being passed..i wonder do you have children? Cousins? Sibilings? Friends? Cause if you do chances are someone in your life is struggling right now with this disease&may very well need to be brought out of an overdose @some point wouldnt you want someone to make a phone call to 911&sit with your loved one til help arrives with out running away scared&leaving that loved one to die, to die alone,to never have that chance at getting clean &having a second chance at life?
PeoplesChamp January 20, 2013 at 03:48 AM
Excellent. kuddos to Deb and the only council member to respond to a constituent's please, Jonathan Nelson.
Kevin Guhl January 20, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I think the idea here is to save lives, for a person who has overdosed or their loved ones to be able to call for help without much fear of reprisal. Even if the person who has overdosed has illegally used the drugs (as pointed out by Clyde Donovan), their life should take precedence. Not sure why Christie would veto this.

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