ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A bill passed by the Minnesota Senate provides immunity for drug users who overdose and those who call 911 for help.
But the legislation has run into some opposition from law enforcement officials and prosecutors who fear the immunity provision could protect drug dealers and other criminals.
The bill which generated little debate Tuesday in the Senate allows first responders and law enforcement officers to administer Narcan, a drug that quickly counteracts the effects of a heroin overdose. The legislation was proposed in response to the growing number of heroin overdoses in the state.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says the provision offering immunity goes "too far to the other side" and that he may not have his deputies carry the lifesaving drug as a result, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1ejueIJ ) reported.
"We got into this for the right reason, which was to save lives," he said of his initial support for the bill. "We did not get into this to save lives and get immunity for everyone."
The Minnesota County Attorneys Association plans to attempt to intervene before the bill goes to the House. Prosecutors say they would consider granting immunity in lower-level drug cases, but not across the board.
The bill is similar to one signed into law last year that protects underage drinkers who call 911 to report a medical emergency, as long as they're the first person to make a report, provide contact information and remain at the scene to cooperate with authorities.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com