Michigan COVID hospitalizations exceed fall peak as situation worsens

New law exempts young adults if they report drug abuse

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

Lansing — People under 21 who call for help during life-threatening emergencies as the result of abusing prescription drugs will be exempt from drug-related charges under a bill signed into law Wednesday.

The death of Watervliet teenager Mason Mizwicki from a drug overdose inspired the legislation said Republican Rep. Al Pscholka of Stevensville, the bill’s chief sponsor. Pscholka said the activism of the young man’s mother, Lori Mizwicki, and aunt Brandi Huyser spurred him to introduce the legislation.

“(T)his is not just an effort to pass a bill, but to spread awareness about prescription drug abuse itself,” Pscholka said. “The message isn’t to go soft on drugs, but to tell kids that their future means more to us than their mistakes.”

The new law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Rick Snyder, is intended to allow young people to summon help for drug emergencies without fear they’ll face prosecution.

Good Samaritan criminal law provisions are among the recommendations in an October 27 report issued by a state task force headed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. The report is part of a state-led battle against a growing number of addictions and deaths in Michigan linked to widely-used drugs called opioids.

At the bill signing, Mizwicki said the legislation helped broaden awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

“I believe through Mason’s voice, both parents and teens are more aware of the epidemic that is spreading into our neighborhoods and schools,” she said. “Awareness was our goal all along. Our kids now need to ‘Know the Law, Make the Call, Save a Life.’”

House Bill 4843 passed unanimously in both chambers of the Legislature. It was backed by groups representing prosecutors, pharmacists, social workers, judges and law enforcement officers.

“We’re going to look at further ways to combat substance and drug abuse while lending a compassionate hand to victims,” Pscholka said.