TPS attempts to 'de-mystify' Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

Marc Depatie Len Gillis / Len Gillis/The Daily Press

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In the midst of an opioid crisis which has seen a number of local residents overdosed, the Timmins Police Service has issued a release in hopes that more people will call an ambulance in the event of someone overdosing.

The intent is to encourage others to act in the best interest of the person in medical distress without fear of legal reprisals.

The concern for some is that the person reporting the OD would get charged with being in possession of restricted or illegal drugs.

The release, issued by TPS communications officer Marc Depatie, said the hope is to “de-mystify some of the misinterpretations of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

Depatie noted, “The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for people who are themselves experiencing some form of medical distress linked to a drug overdose situation or are a direct witness to such circumstance.”

The legislation was clearly enacted, he said, so that people in these circumstances are protected from being charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.

“The act further provides protections against any collateral breaches of conditions regarding possession of a controlled substance in conflict with any pre-trial release, probation orders, conditional sentences or parole requirements.

“The Act is structured so that persons who find themselves in need of emergency service from a first responder, including a police officer, during an overdose event, can rightfully seek out and receive said assistance without fear of being charged with an offence, even if they choose to leave the scene of the overdose prior to the arrival of a first responder.”

Depatie further noted, there is an exception to the standard rule in that it doesn’t protect someone who is wanted on an outstanding warrant for their arrest.

“The Act goes so far as to protect any other person who is at the scene when help in terms of first responder assistance arrives on scene,” Depatie wrote.

“With the above in mind, it should be clearly noted that the Act is specific to the level of protection offered under the legislation in terms of the fact that is does not provide protection from persons involved in such circumstances but who may also be ‘wanted’ on an outstanding warrant, involved in the production or trafficking in controlled substances or any other criminal act not specified within the Act.”

Despite these measures which provide a measure of protection to those who call for medical assistance in the midst of drug-taking, Depatie said, “It should be clearly understood that, in no way, does the Timmins Police Service endorse or encourage the use of, or experimentation with, illicit substances.

In fact, the Timmins Police Service cannot be severe enough with its warnings against these behaviors, not only as an illegal act, but as a direct threat to a person’s wellbeing.”

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