New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed into law a bill that protects drug overdose patients and those who seek medical help for them from prosecution.
The Overdose Protection Act seeks to assure that overdose victims receive timely medical assistance without fear of being arrested for drug possession.
“Leaders of this state want them to save a life first, not worry about anything else thereafter,” Christie said. “First to save a life and in return the deal we’ll make with them is we won’t prosecute them, we won’t arrest them.”
The law even extends protection from being arrested, charged, or prosecuted for small amounts of drugs when reporting an overdose to those on parole and probation.
Singer Jon Bon Jovi, whose daughter Stephanie overdosed in a dorm at Hamilton College in Upstate New York last year, joined Christie for the signing.
“I hope that Gov. Christie’s actions here will cause other states to stand up and to pay attention and to also follow in his footsteps,” Bon Jovi said.
As reported by the Associated Press and picked up by other media outlets, neither Bon Jovi nor the governor mentioned the singer’s daughter’s case during the signing.
CNN reported that it was a heroin overdose in November 2012. Misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance or the use of drug paraphernalia against Stephanie Bonjiovi and another student were later dropped under New York State’s Good Samaritan overdose-reporting law.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, New Jersey joins 11 other states and the District of Columbia with similar protection laws. Those states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington.