Georgia’s Medical Amnesty Law

This information was recently shared with me by a local attorney and with his permission I am passing it along. Its written to professionals; however, I feel it’s applicable to everyone. It’s because of this law that I believe my husband is still with me today. The day he overdosed he was at his dealer’s home. They could have easily thrown him in the streets to protect themselves, but this law allowed them to call EMS without fear of retribution and save my husband’s life.

Georgia’s Medical Amnesty Law (O.C.G.A. §16-13-5)

As our country and state attempts to grapple with the nationwide opiate epidemic, I wanted you to be aware of Georgia’s 9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Law signed into law in 2014 (see attached). This epidemic claims the lives of 36,000 Americans every year. I am sure that during the course of your practice, addiction issues have played a role with certain clients including family members. It is important for you to note the following information which may aid in therapy:

1. In many cases, overdose bystanders may fail to summon medical assistance because they are afraid that doing so may put them at risk of arrest and prosecution. The Medical Amnesty Law attempts to address this problem by providing limited immunity from arrest, charge, and prosecution for possession of controlled substances and marijuana for a person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug related overdose (whether for himself or another) where the evidence for the arrest charge or prosecution was obtained solely as a result of the seeking of medical assistance.

2. The law provides immunity from possession charges only. There is no protection for other crimes such as the sale of illegal drugs. There is also no penalty for violation of protective or restraining orders or sanctions for violation of pretrial release, condition of probation, or condition of parole based on a drug violation.

3. This limited immunity applies to possession of drug paraphernalia as well as alcohol-related overdose (i.e., purchasing alcohol for a minor, fake identification).

4. Naloxone is a medication that is available at pharmacies in Georgia without a prescription. It acts to reverse opioid overdose (Heroin, Percocet, Oxycontin, etc.), but does not prevent deaths caused by other drugs (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol). Opioids can slow or stop a person’s breathing. Naloxone restores the overdose victim’s breathing. Naloxone can be injected or administered through a nasal spray. It usually acts in 2-5 minutes or less.

Since 2014, 488 people in Georgia have been saved by the use of Naloxone rescue kits from Georgia Overdose Prevention and Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, and there have been 145 overdose reversals by law enforcement. Additionally, many Georgians have received life-saving Naloxone from EMS and in emergency departments.

For further information, contact Robin Elliott at


Howard A. Gold, Esq.
31 Lenox Pointe, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
(404) 264-9118
(404) 237-3827 (fax)