S.R. NO.













requesting the department of health and the john A. Burns School of medicine to conduct a study on states with good samaritan laws and their impact on decreasing drug overdose deaths.



     WHEREAS, this body finds that Good Samaritan policies, also known as medical amnesty, are life-saving measures that are in the best interest of the public's health, safety, and welfare; and


     WHEREAS, these policies enable people to make responsible decisions by shielding them from punishment when they seek medical attention during an emergency involving controlled substances; and


     WHEREAS, this body finds that the threat of criminal punishment for being in possession of a controlled substance may often cause people to hesitate from taking necessary action in such emergency situations, and time spent worrying about legal consequences delays the arrival of critically needed medical assistance, in which even a short delay can mean the difference between life and death; and


     WHEREAS, this body further finds that overdoses nationwide more than doubled between 2000 and 2006, and nationally and locally, more overdose deaths are caused by prescription drugs than all illegal drugs combined; and


     WHEREAS, middle-aged Americans are the hardest hit by the overdose crisis, and nationally, more people aged thirty-five to fifty-four die from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle accidents; and


     WHEREAS, drug overdose is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths among young adults aged fifteen to thirty-four; and


     WHEREAS, fatal drug overdose was the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Hawaii in 2011; and


     WHEREAS, in Hawaii, according to the Department of Health's Injury Prevention and Control Branch, there were one hundred eighty-three drug overdose deaths in 2011, and the increase in unintentional drug poisonings has made this the third leading cause of fatalities among Hawaii's residents over the last five years; and


     WHEREAS, over twenty years, unintentional drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes, homicides, drowning, and pedestrian fatalities as a leading cause of injury mortality; and


     WHEREAS, this body also finds that a study conducted at Cornell University, and recently published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, demonstrated that Good Samaritan policies are effective in ensuring that people receive help during alcohol-related emergencies; and


     WHEREAS, over ninety college campuses across the United States have policies that provide protection from prosecution for witnesses who call 911; and


     WHEREAS, Good Samaritan laws have been enacted as state law in ten states, including California, Colorado, Florida, New York, and Washington; and


     WHEREAS, this body further finds that if criminal punishment is intended to deter drug abuse, it is clearly too late to deter such abuse when a person is already suffering from an overdose; and


     WHEREAS, the number one reason cited for not calling 911 in response to a drug overdose is fear of arrest for drug possession; and


     WHEREAS, Good Samaritan polices should not be perceived as a "get out of jail free card" or a reward for illegal drug use, but rather a way to enable individuals to make potentially life-saving decisions promptly and without hesitation; and


     WHEREAS, Good Samaritan policies foster the Aloha spirit of caring for one another; now, therefore,


     BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-seventh Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2013, that the Department of Health, together with researchers from the John A. Burns School of Medicine, are requested to study the states with Good Samaritan laws and the laws' impact on decreasing drug overdose deaths; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Health is requested to submit a report outlining policies in other states and the effect of Good Samaritan policies on drug overdoses and deaths to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2014 Regular Session; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chair of the Senate Health Committee, Chair of the House of Representatives Health Committee, Director of Health, and Dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine.





















Report Title: 

Good Samaritan Laws; Department of Health; JABSOM