Lifeline Law could be extended to include illegal drugs

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on December 1, 2015 by By Zach Osowski

INDIANAPOLIS — Expanding Indiana’s Lifeline Law beyond alcohol offenses will be one of Gov. Mike Pence’s legislative priorities during the 2016 session.

Pence released more directives based on recommendations from his Drug Task Force aimed at helping Indiana battle drug usage.

Among the directives was a promise to support three bills from Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis. Chief among them is a bill that will extend Indiana’s Lifeline Law to possibly include drug offenses. Merritt has not yet filed the bill so there are no specific details as to what drugs would possibly be forgivable.

The current Lifeline Law provides immunity to underage individuals who consume alcohol. For example, if someone is underage and drinking and sees another underage drinker in need of emergency assistance, that person could contact police without fear of legal retribution. The proposed changes could provide the same level of immunity for drug users if a person is in trouble and in need of medical assistance.

The law was last updated in 2014.

Merritt will also author a bill to allow for naloxone to be purchased at a pharmacy without a prescription through standing orders. Naloxone, or Narcan, can help stop the effects of a heroin or prescription drug overdose.

Pence also directed that some changes be made to Indiana’s prescription program to allow qualified physicians to prescribe certain medications without prior approval.

The next Drug Task Force meeting will be Dec. 8 in Indianapolis.