Pubdate: Thu, 20 Mar 2014
Source: Red and Black, The (U of Georgia, GA Edu)
Copyright: 2014 The Red and Black Publishing Co., Inc.
Source: Red and Black, The (U of Georgia, GA Edu)
Author: Cy Brown


When students drink and do drugs they normally have two fears: the
fear of getting in trouble and the fear of someone getting hurt. And
the former almost always trumps the latter with college students. The
choice between the two has left too many dead in the past.

But Georgia House Bill 965 - or the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law -
would grant amnesty from small drug charges to those who call for help
in the case of drug overdoses. It overwhelmingly passed through the
House and Senate and now awaits Gov. Nathan Deal.

As a community, we should be under no illusions about college
students' drug and alcohol use. It's important that now the decision
between someone getting in trouble or someone getting hurt won't have
to be made.

They say old habits die hard for a reason, though. Students will
always be wary of authority, especially law enforcement. But this is a
step in the right direction. The possibility of getting in trouble
wasn't worth someone getting hurt before the medical amnesty was
passed; now that it will likely become law, there are no excuses.

Brian Consuegra, president of the University of Georgia chapter of
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, told The Red & Black in 2013 that
most authority figures were already more concerned with student safety
than criminal charges.

"Most addiction professionals and law enforcement professionals say
that you should focus on keeping students safe, healthy and not dead,
rather than the institution focusing on criminal prosecution,"
Consuegra said.

If students are going to drink and do drugs - there's no reason to
believe prohibiting illicit substances has ever stopped them - it is
vital that the student body is informed about safe, thoughtful drug
and alcohol practices. Calling for help if someone is overdosing or
has alcohol poisoning is the most important practice to minimize risk
in an already risky situation.

Next time you are partying, be mindful of the health risks. If someone
you're with is in trouble, help them. If you're afraid you'll get in
trouble, don't be. With the passage of medical amnesty here's no
reason your (another person's) safety shouldn't be your first priority.

- -Cy Brown for the editorial board
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