The other day, I wrote about some pending Utah legislation (see post here). Since then, I've had a great e-mail exchange with the sponsor of the bill, which is designed to protect people who call for help when they think a friend is overdosing.
I have a deeper respect now for the gap between the English we can all understand and legislative language. The sponsor assures me that the bill actually will provide good samaritans with immunity from arrest for drug possession and use--not just special consideration in court after being arrested.
"I agree that the language does sound as though a person could be prosecuted and then claim an affirmative defense," she wrote, kindly making me feel better about my misunderstanding. "Legal language frequently baffles me when I, as a longtime high school English teacher, would have written it in a more clear and simple way."
So it sounds like the legislation does have real potential to make a big difference after all. We truly need it. Utah apparently has the "eighth highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States." Not okay. I am looking forward to spreading the word. It's already passed unanimously in the House; I can't imagine it won't pass in the Senate. Then the law will be go into effect as soon as the governor signs it.
And I am looking forward to the followup discussion I will have with my university students next week about digging deep enough to get to the bottom of something. I will humbly hold myself up as a poster child.