Good Samaritan Law
In Massachusetts the rate of fatal drug overdose has increased dramatically over the past decade. In
2007, an average of 12 Massachusetts residents died each week of an opioid-related overdose (e.g.
from heroin, oxycodone, or fentanyl). An overdose is a life-threatening medical emergency. If 911
emergency responders are called quickly enough, in most cases, the person will survive. One of the
major contributing factors to an overdose death is that many witnesses do not call 911 due to fear of
police involvement. The 911 Good Samaritan law provides protection from drug
possession charges when an overdose victim or an overdose witness seeks medical attention.
This law helps reduce overdose deaths by removing barriers to calling 911 for medical
assistance, a crucial step in saving the life of someone experiencing an overdose.
The legislation does not protect individuals from being prosecuted for other offenses such as drug
trafficking or weapons charges. This also does not protect individuals with outstanding warrants nor
would it interfere with law enforcement protocols to secure the scene of an overdose.
View Massachusetts DPH's Information Sheet on the legislation
Read the Network for Public Health Law's overview of Overdose Good Samaritan Laws