Drug laws exist because society wants to decrease the harm from using narcotics. The intent behind punishment is not to enact retribution. It is to discourage substance-takers from engaging in destructive activity.
Pennsylvania has a rule that prevents prosecution in cases where someone is suffering an overdose. Users may thus seek medical services without fear of getting into trouble. Removing this concern undoubtedly saves lives.
What are the requirements for overdose immunity?
A drug user only has protection against charges under certain conditions. One scenario is when police become aware of the drug-taking offense solely due to the overdosing patient seeking help. Someone showing up at a police station or healthcare facility, for instance, would have automatic protection. The person could also dial 911 and not worry.
The other situation is if a person presently using drugs reports someone else overdosing. Addicts often take drugs together. Thus, a drug user may be the only one present to take action when signs of an overdose emerge. The reporting individual must remain on-site with the patient. The caller must also cooperate with arriving responders to be eligible for protection.
When can prosecution happen anyway?
In some instances, there is a question about the applicability of immunity. Some district attorneys will prosecute if even minor deviations from the law occur. Other prosecutors might argue against there being an imminent life-threatening emergency.
Legal advice is necessary for people facing an arrest stemming from actions that should have protection. Knowledge of the law makes it easier to argue against conviction.