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Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today to provide Californians with limited immunity from prosecution for drug offenses when they seek medical assistance for an overdose by themselves or others.

Assembly Bill 472, by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, is meant to encourage people to call 9-1-1 in a drug emergency, rather than to hesitate for fear of arrest.

The measure will prohibit, in overdose cases, the arrest of a witness who summoned help if that person was under the influence of or possessed a drug for personal use. Immunity also would extend to possession of drug paraphernalia.

AB 472 will not apply to other drug-related offenses, however, including drug sales or driving under the influence.

Most Democrats in the Legislature supported Ammiano's proposal, while most Republicans opposed it. The bill will take effect. Jan. 1.


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