State lawmakers have passed a measure they hope will halt the growing trend of fatal narcotics overdoses in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the proposal.
Bystanders who report possible overdoses to police, college campus security, or emergency workers would be given a pass on certain low-level drug crimes under a bill that passed unanimously in the House and Senate. A late addition to the measure by House lawmakers will expand access to naloxone, a drug known as an antidote to heroin overdose.
“It’s rare, in my short career as a state legislator, that I see a bill, a good bill, that comes out of this body, then goes over to the House and comes back even more improved,” said Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks. “We have, I dare to say, a ‘twofer’ here.”
The bill’s passage comes on the heels of a report on heroin and opioid abuse released by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. It finds that Pennsylvania overdose deaths spiked in 2011. The report also recommends expanding drug prevention programs and spending more on drug task forces.