AUGUSTA — Recovery advocates and Governor Janet Mills have reached an agreement to expand Maine’s Good Samaritan law. Under the final version of LD 1862, those who are “rendering aid” during an overdose will be protected from arrest and prosecution for most nonviolent crimes.

“The victory goes to the advocates who have worked tirelessly, who have been unwavering in their commitment to saving lives,” said Sen. Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln County), the bill sponsor. “The overwhelming legislative support for this bill and the Governor’s agreement to work with us show the transformation in our thinking: if we want to save lives, we must move away from a punishment-centered approach to drug use.”

The deal came after advocates with the Expand Good Sam coalition and legislative allies from both parties held a press conference this morning in Augusta in support of LD 1862, insisting that any amendment to the bill must meaningfully advance the coalition’s goals of saving lives. The original bill was recalled from the governor’s desk by the Senate and House today. The amended bill will be taken up on Monday, April 25, when the legislature returns to work.

“Since the beginning of this effort, we knew we faced an uphill battle. We chose collectively to move forward anyway because our loved ones need us to fight for them and fight with them,” said Courtney Allen, Organizing Director for the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project. “Legislators listened, shared their own stories of loss and stood by our side as we asked Governor Mills to join us in meaningful change. And she has. Advocates across the state of Maine are celebrating the willingness of our Governor to work with us. Together we have saved lives.”

The following statements can be attributed as noted:

Randy Beard, recovery advocate and person in long-term recovery

“I am here today because someone was willing to call 9-1-1 and save my life. But I have also been the Good Samaritan. I have been arrested twice for calling 9-1-1 to report an overdose. This law will mean people won’t have experiences like that. This law will mean more people won’t be afraid to call 9-1-1 for help, and it will mean more people will stay alive after an overdose. I am proof that we do recover. But in order to recover, we have to stay alive.”

Rep. Lydia Crafts (D-Newcastle)

“I was moved to advocate for people living with addiction after the loss of my cousin, Zachary, who died from an overdose. While it is too late to save Zachary, the expansion of Maine’s Good Samaritan may save others by removing the paralyzing fear of what might happen if they call 9-1-1.  This law will save lives and it will save many families the grief my family has experienced from losing Zachary.”

Sen. Marianne Moore (R-Washington County)

“We must remember 636 people died last year from drug overdoses. This is for them, for their loved ones who survive them, and for every life that will be saved because of this law. Every life deserves to be saved. Fear of prosecution should never be a barrier to administer help or call 9-1-1.”