Opinion: Ohio needs to put Medical Amnesty into law

Dylan Webb is a teaching English as a second language major. Contact him at [email protected]

Dylan Webb

It’s another Thirsty Thursday at the Sigma Pi Sigma frat house. Things are winding down and after a slew of cheap beer and the occasional beer bong, you decide to go on the crawl back to the dorms.

However, one of your underage friends is on a nearby couch getting sick from drinking way too much alcohol. You can tell something isn’t right when she starts to spew frothy white liquid from her mouth. Her lips are turning blue. Now you are sure this could be life-threatening. Who do you turn to without seeming like the snitch of the party and getting a lot of your friends in trouble? What would you do?

According to a study done by SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) when someone in America overdoses, or suffers from alcohol poisoning, a call for help occurs less than 50% of the time, and fear of police involvement is the most common reason for not calling 911 during an overdose.

How can we fix this? Simple: Grant amnesty to people in life-threatening situations, so they don’t have to decide between saving a life and facing penalties for underage drinking. You can help your friend and not worry about legal repercussions. This prevents witnesses of drug overdoses from being charged with anything while a friend is getting medical attention for a drug overdose or alcohol poisoning.

Currently, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is trying to put a medical amnesty policy into law, granting the Good Samaritan policy statewide. So far, only a few counties in Ohio have passed this measure. However, it needs to be put into law statewide to prevent deaths that could have been avoided with immediate medical attention.

Another reason the state should pass this legislation statewide is to respond to the rising number of casualties from the heroin epidemic. By putting the amnesty law into effect, we can ensure that lives are saved. People can call for help without getting legal records or minimum mandatory sentencing. Currently, Ross County in Ohio has put the medical amnesty policy into effect, but to save as many lives as possible including lives here at Kent State, this measure must be enacted statewide.

Currently, Kent State University has the Good Samaritan policy with the same guidelines as the Medical Amnesty policy, but once outside of campus, that legal protection dissolves. Good Samaritan policies shouldn’t be viewed as ‘get out of jail free cards’ or rewards for binge-drinking. Rather, they provide students with the clarity they need in order to make responsible, life-saving decisions during confusing and stressful party situations. Every minute spent worrying about judicial consequences is another minute it will take for help to arrive. That minute can literally be the difference between life and death.

Of course, opponents of passing the act claim by allowing witnesses of overdoses amnesty will encourage drug use fearing no repercussions.

The focus should be on saving lives and giving addicts a wakeup call without legal repercussions stopping them from finding the desire to get clean and stable. Furthermore, activities like underage drinking and drug use will always occur despite laws. Thus, policies like the medical amnesty policy help to curb the negative and potentially deadly effects of drug use which are simply unavoidable.

At the end of the day, you never know if that girl at the party who passed out simply drank a little too much, or is going through life-threatening alcohol poisoning. You or your friends should never be afraid to call for help.