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Our Opinion: Acting against scourge of drug abuse

Our Opinion: Acting against scourge of drug abuse

November 29th, 2016 by The News Tribune in Opinion Editorial

"Take a sad song and make it better."

John Lennon/Paul McCartney

 

The sadness of Cody Marshall's fatal heroin overdose lingers in the hearts of family and friends, but Cody's father continues his mission to bring meaning to a tragic episode.

Former Jefferson City High School coach Jim Marshall, Cody's father, is among the proponents of legislation to decriminalize reporting or seeking medical attention for someone suffering ill effects of substance abuse.

"This fits the scenario my son passed away in," Marshall said. "He was left by his friends, one would speculate, because they were afraid to take him to the hospital because they were doing the same things and were afraid of being accused or prosecuted themselves."

Previous incarnations of the proposal, known as the Good Samaritan Law, have not won legislative approval. This year's proposal — being drafted by state Rep. Steve Lynch, R-Waynesville — will retain similar language.

A provision would prohibit prosecution, conviction or punishment for anyone reporting or assisting someone who is suffering medical consequences from an overdose of drugs or alcohol.

The new proposal will be renamed "Bailey and Cody's Law." The reference to Cody and to Bailey, another victim, is designed to connect human stories to a growing problem, Marshall said.

Since Cody's death five years ago, Marshall has advocated, largely in schools, about the dangers of drug use. Sadly, during that time, problems connected to the abuse of prescription opioid drugs — and its illegal substitute, heroin — have escalated.

In addition to promoting the law, Marshall also supports a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri, the only state that has failed to adopt to database to identify and offer help for people with a pattern of overusing prescription medication.

"Obviously," Marshall said, "there's a hole in your heart, and there's a missing part of you. But I found strength in dealing with it by sharing his message and name and promoting legislation that will help this problem. As a longtime educator, I wanted to take a negative and make it positive."

When the Legislature convenes in January, we encourage lawmakers to expedite these two proposals.

The scourge of drug abuse is taking too many people and leaving too much sadness in its wake.