R.I. judge rules possible overdose victim can’t be charged with drug crime

Providence Journal –

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — A Superior Court judge has ruled that the state’s Good Samaritan law protects from criminal charges not just the person who calls in a potential overdose, but also the person experiencing the medical emergency.

Judge Melanie Wilk Thunberg earlier this month agreed to dismiss charges facing Daniel DiSalvo, a 38-year-old South Kingstown man, ruling that he couldn’t be charged or prosecuted for possessing with intent to deliver marijuana and THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, under the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act.

Thunberg ruled that the law, hailed at its passage as much needed to protect those who call for help and as such reduce overdose deaths, also shields those potentially overdosing or experiencing a medical emergency related to their alcohol or drug use.

South Kingstown police and rescue crews, responding to a 911 call, found DiSalvo unresponsive on the basement floor of a home in Wakefield at 3:17 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2017.

DiSalvo was conscious but not responsive in a room that police said reeked of marijuana. Witnesses told the officers that minutes earlier he was unconscious, his lips and face turning blue.

Marijuana plants and hardened hash oil, known as “dabs” or “shatter,” were nearby, as well as a butane torch and a smoking pipe with white residue, according to police reports. A batch of shatter was cooking in an oven.

Officer Christopher C. Sarasin asked DiSalvo if he had taken any drugs and advised him that he wouldn’t be charged for any substances he’d taken or found on his person, according to a police report. DiSalvo didn’t respond and was taken to South County Hospital.

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