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March 2, 2023

Overdose Prevention Bill Moves Forward

HB23-1167 would expand Good Samaritan immunity to those acting in good faith to save someone from an overdose

DENVER, CO – The House passed a bill on a preliminary vote today that would help prevent fatal overdoses by restoring the Good Samaritan immunity to those taking action to save someone from a fatal overdose. 

“We have heard countless stories of people who were too scared to call law enforcement to report an overdose, even when doing so might have saved a life,” said Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “We’re sponsoring this bill to lift the veil of fear and make clear that the only thing Coloradans should be worrying about is how they can save the life of the person overdosing. This bill strikes the right balance by allowing law enforcement to continue to crack down on serious drug dealers while having compassion for people struggling with their own addiction.”

“Coloradans are dying from preventable drug overdoses, we need to do everything in our power to ensure people will call emergency services to save lives,” said Rep. Said Sharbini, D-Brighton. “When someone is experiencing an overdose, the number one priority should be getting them the medical attention needed to save their life. This bill is rooted in harm reduction and makes our existing Good Samaritan law work as intended.” 

HB23-1167 would expand the bipartisan, 2012 Good Samaritan law by restoring immunity for all drug possession charges and expanding immunity to people sharing small amounts of drugs among friends if they call 911, stay on the scene, and fully cooperate with law enforcement to try to save a life.

This bill is rooted in harm reduction. Right now, Coloradans are refraining from contacting emergency services when someone is overdosing because they are worried about facing criminal charges if they shared or purchased the controlled substance with the person who is overdosing. In addition, HB23-1167 grants affirmative defense to the prosecution for an individual at the scene responsible for manufacturing or selling the deadly substances. 

Across Colorado, five people die each day from preventable overdoses. This bill would encourage Coloradans on the scene to do everything in their power to help someone experiencing an overdose without letting serious drug dealers off the hook.

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