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Letter: Medical amnesty provides responsible way to seek help

I am writing to you today on behalf of young people and the potential to save their lives. Two bills have been recently introduced in the State House (HF946) and Senate (SF744) called Medical Amnesty to do just that. If enacted, the bills will provide limited legal immunity to persons participating in underage drinking should they call for medical help in the case of an emergency.

To ensure passage the legislature needs to be reminded the importance of breaking down barriers to medical attention for underage drinkers. In 2010, Boynton Health Services found over 37 percent of 20 year olds in Minnesota participated in high-risk drinking. The following year, Boynton Health Services found over 14 percent of Minnesota college students were “not likely” to call 911 if someone was unresponsive due to alcohol use. Instituting this policy will encourage young people to make the right choice in a bad situation.

Ten other states have already implemented this policy, including Texas and New York, and have found very few complications. As one of the strongest proponents for the policy, Cornell University has conducted a number of studies and surveys in regards to alcohol consumption and the medical emergencies associated with it. A study done in 2006 found Cornell’s medical amnesty policies increased the number of emergency calls made, and the rate of underage drinking remained the same.

Medical Amnesty will provide a responsible avenue for underage drinkers to seek medical attention for any person in need. Please contact your local legislator and tell them that medical amnesty is a commonsense solution to an easily preventable problem. Let them know that Minnesotans care more about keeping our younger souls alive than punishing them for a mistake, and the state should reflect our values. Tell them to pass Medical Amnesty for Minnesota.

Joe Kreisman

Morris, Minn.