HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A new billboard popping up around the Pine Belt is shedding light on Mississippi’s Good Samaritan law.
“If you witness a drug overdose... Don’t run. Call 911."
Those are the exact words printed on the sign. Supporters of the billboard said they do not advocate for drug use, but the possibility to save more lives.
“If people know that they will not go to jail if they call the police or the ambulance, I think a lot more people would be alive," said Lauren Selis, who passed by the billboard Wednesday.
The signs, located on Old Highway 11 in Oak Grove and Highway 49 in Hattiesburg, say that under state law you’re protected if you witness an overdose. The man behind the sign is Hattiesburg business owner James Moore, who lost his son to a heroin overdose in 2015.
“People in the state continue to die because they’re left alone whenever their in an overdose situation,” Moore said.
Moore put up the billboard to raise awareness about the Mississippi Medical Emergency Good Samaritan Law.
“Even if they are under the influence themselves or if they have drugs on them, as long as they meet the standards of the statue, they will not be charged in any way,” said Hal Kittrell, District Attorney for the 15th Circuit Court of Mississippi.
Kittrell said he supports the billboards and there needs to be more awareness about the law.
“We’re finding from law enforcement and finding out from even the hospitals there’s not a lot of situations where people are dumping people off or making the calls,” Kittrell said.
The law states that if you are seek medical assistance for someone who is overdosing, you will not be penalized if you are in possession of 30 grams or less or marijuana, less than four grams of a solid substance, or less than 20 dosage units. It even goes as far to say that you won’t be arrested if you’re on parole or there’s a restraining order against you.
“The legislatures rule that at this point with the lower dosage of these drugs that saving a life is more important than a prosecution of the case,” Kittrell said.
Moore said the goal is to save lives and hopefully the sign will get that message across.
“If you consider yourself a friend and you’re using with a friend and that friend goes into an ovderdose situation, call 911 and follow the instructions of the operator,” Moore said.