Governor Abbott to Drug Overdosers: Drop Dead

Texas House Bill 225 was not controversial. As written by Rio Grande City state Representative Ryan Guillen, it would have allowed people who call 911 to help a friend who's overdosed on drugs avoid charges for possessing a small amount of drugs themselves. So-called Good Samaritan provisions already exist in 24 states and Washington, D.C.

HB 225 passed the otherwise acrimonious Texas Senate 30-1. It passed the Texas House 140-4.

The protection for prosecution would have extended only to the first person who called 911 as long as he or she stuck around and cooperated with medical personnel. It would not have protected those in possession of large quantities of drugs, like, say, a dealer.

Governor Greg Abbott doesn't care. He vetoed the bill Monday, almost two weeks after it was sent to his desk and just after the Legislature went home for the session, making a veto override impossible.

"HB 225 has an admirable goal, but it does not include adequate protections to prevent its misuse by habitual drug abusers and drug dealers. Although my office suggested amendments to this legislation that would have eliminated the bill's protections for habitual drug abusers and drug dealers — while maintaining protections for minors and first-time offenders — those amendments were not adopted during the legislative process. Consequently, it was necessary to veto this bill," Abbott said in his veto statement.

Another measure that would have expanded access to naloxone, an opiod antagonist used in case of overdose, has also been sent to the governor in a separate bill, SB 1462. SB 1462 would allow doctors to prescribe naloxone to patients at risk of an overdose. The governor has not said whether he will sign the expansion. Opponents of allowing greater access to naloxone argue that access to the drug, which is not a controlled substance, increases the likelihood of overdoses because it makes them less fatal.

In other words, better that five junkies die of overdoses than 10 overdose and live. 

(h/t Grits for Breakfast)
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young