Should States Adopt Drug Overdose Immunity Laws?

Publication Date


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Politics and Government


Carl Palmer

Mentor Department

Politics and Government


According to the CDC, there is an opioid epidemic facing America. From 2014-2015, the CDC saw a 72.2% increase in death rates related to synthetic opioids other than methadone, and a 20.6% increase in heroin related death rates. This increase occurred across all demographics, regions, and in a number of states. This issue is multifaceted, with many causes. I am going to look into one of the methods by which states are attempting to face the problem. The method I will look at is a group of laws collectively called the Drug Overdose Immunity and Good Samaritan Laws. These laws effectively allow individuals to call emergency responders in the case of an overdose without fear of prosecution. The idea behind the laws is that individuals wait too long to call response teams out of fear and that these laws would reduce or eliminate that fear, thereby reducing the number of overdose deaths. Currently, 40 states and Washington D.C. have adopted these laws state-wide. Utilizing data from the CDC and the FBI, I will look into the effectiveness of these laws. I will randomly select one group of counties from those states with the laws and one group of counties from those states without the laws. I will then look at both the drug-related death rates within each county as well as the drug-related arrest rates in each county. I will finally compare death-rates and arrest-rates between counties of those states with and without the laws. I hypothesize that I will find that the counties of those states with the Drug Overdose Immunity and Good Samaritan Laws will have lower drug-related death rates and lower drug-related arrest rates than those counties without the laws.



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