Bill proposal would prevent prosecution of drug users seeking medical attention

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

ATLANTA - A Marietta lawmaker is trying to pass a bill that would prevent prosecuting drug users who seek help for other drug users in desperate need of medical attention.
 

State Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, believes the bill would save lives.
 
"There's an increase in the use of heroin by young people 18-29," said Cooper.  "They get into trouble, serious medical trouble, and everybody around them leaves, and they die because they don't want to get into trouble."
 
Tanya Smith lost her 20-year-old daughter Taylor in August 2013.  Smith said her daughter had used meth with friends before suffering an asthma attack.
 
"During the course of the evening, she had an asthma attack," said Smith.  "The company that she was with was too scared to call 911 and allowed her to die.  I believe that if this law was in effect, he would have called 911."
 
Robin Cardiges' son Stephen was an Eagle Scout who tried heroin in 2012.  He died even though he was around friends.
 
"The young people that he was with were too afraid to take him to the emergency room or call 911 because they were afraid they would be arrested," said Cardiges.
 
Cooper said this law is similar to an existing Georgia law which allows women to drop off newborn babies to hospitals and fire stations without fear of prosecution.  Some prosecutors have opposed the bill because they fear it could make it easier for some drug dealers to avoid arrest.
 
Cooper said she worked with several district attorneys to clean up the language in the bill so that wouldn't happen.  The bill is now in a House committee.