A bill to save lives and prevent overdose deaths has become law with Governor Janet Mills’ signature. Recovery and harm reduction advocates joined Gov. Mills for a signing ceremony this morning for LD 1862, which will strengthen Maine’s Good Samaritan law. 

LD 1862 protects a person experiencing an overdose and those rendering aid during an overdose from arrest and prosecution for nonviolent crimes. It also protects people from being arrested for bail conditions and probation violations. Advocates say it will make Maine the state with one of the strongest Good Samaritan laws in the country. 

The law comes as Maine sees record-shattering overdose deaths — with almost 12 people dying per week. 

In response, the Expand Good Sam coalition – made up of members of Maine’s recovery, harm reduction, and re-entry communities, families, faith leaders, and advocacy organizations – issued the following statement:

“Our community came to us with a clear message that they wanted a Good Samaritan Law that would protect more people at the scene of an overdose. They asked us for more safety so they wouldn’t have to face agonizing decisions about whether to help a loved one or face arrest. Today, we delivered for them. 

This law is for every person we’ve lost to a preventable overdose. For too long, we’ve focused on punishing people for using drugs, instead of keeping people alive. This law marks a turning point: our lawmakers have said we care more about saving lives than punishing people. Let’s keep building on that.”

Members of the harm reduction and recovery community dedicate today’s bill signing to the memory of Kari Morissette, the executive director of the Church of Safe Injection, who passed away on Friday, May 6.

Members of the Expand Good Sam coalition include:

  • Maine Recovery Advocacy Project (ME-RAP)

  • Maine Access Points

  • Church of Safe Injection

  • Recovery on the Road

  • Maine Prisoner Re-Entry Network

  • Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition

  • Rise & Grind Recovery 

  • Recover2gether

  • Maine People’s Alliance

  • ACLU of Maine

  • Maine Drug Policy Lab at Colby College

  • REST Center

  • Courage House

  • Maine DSA 

  • Augusta Recovery Reentry Center

  • Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services 

The following statements can be attributed as noted:

Courtney Allen, organizing director of Maine Recovery Advocacy Project (ME-RAP)

“The recovery, harm reduction, and re-entry community in Maine fought tirelessly for this law and we did not waver in our commitment to our community. This was a hard-fought victory, and it signals that Maine is undergoing a revolution about what it means to support people who use drugs. Our fight does not end today though. There is still more work to do. We are committed to building on these wins and continuing to push the conversations both in the legislature and in our communities.”

Zoe Brokos, Director of Operations, Church of Safe Injection

“We are grateful that this law will provide more protection for the people we love and keep people alive. But we are heartbroken that Kari will not be with us to see it become law. Kari devoted herself to making sure people who use drugs have access to safety, dignity and health. She was a leader in the harm reduction and recovery communities, and part of the team that advocated for the expansion of our Good Samaritan laws. We love her and dedicate this victory to her.”

Sen. Chloe Maxmin (D-Nobleboro), LD 1862 bill sponsor 

“LD 1862 had overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers. Overdose deaths are preventable. Lawmakers are recognizing that if we want to save lives, we have to stop focusing on punishment. This is something lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have agreed on by supporting this bill.”

Rep. Charlotte Warren (D-Hallowell), House Chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

“Recovery and harm reduction advocates have done enormous work changing hearts and minds under the dome. LD 1862 is a turning point about how we treat people who use drugs, moving us away from the failed War on Drugs. Lawmakers have to ask ourselves how we will keep building on this and being accountable to our constituents. What will we do to keep promoting policies that save lives and build healthy and flourishing communities?”

Sen. Rick Bennett (R-Oxford County)

“Recovery advocates worked tirelessly to make sure this bill became law. Many doubted that they would succeed. But they worked hard, they told their stories, they stayed true to the urgency of these times. And they won. This is the essence of democracy: citizens calling on the government to take action, especially at times when our government is too far away or distant from the issue to truly understand what’s needed. Lawmakers listened and we responded. I’m proud to support a law that will save lives.”

Steven Knockwood, ME-RAP Inclusivity Caucus Chair

“The passage of the Good Samaritan expansion shows that when marginalized communities stand together in unity, they have the power to shift the systemic oppression of our people by becoming the majority voice. We will continue to stand in this unity as we move forward to end the persecution of our disease in the state of Maine. We thank our allies for joining us, standing with our fellow community of people who use drugs in an act to save lives."