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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

New Laws Contains Immunity Measures For Drug Overdoses

Governor Peter Shumlin signed a group of bills Wednesday designed to crack down on prescription drug abuse and related crimes. But the measures don’t focus on increased penalties for drug abusers, in fact, quite the opposite. Instead, the so-called “Good Samaritan” law makes Vermont just the 13th state in the nation to offer limited immunity from prosecution to people reporting a potentially deadly drug overdose.

A new law also changes standards for doctors who consult the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System, and creates a pilot program for a drug said to help reverse opiate overdoses.

Bob Bick, the Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the Howard Center in Burlington, was at the bill signing yesterday.

Bick says these bills represent a significant, but at the same time small step forward in helping prevent drug abuse.

“We’ve recognized we’ve got a major opiate addiction problem in this state, that’s a big first step. We’re taking a number of smaller steps her at actualize how we address that problem in a compassionate way.”

The law requires physicians to enroll in the prescription drug monitoring program.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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