Narcan, the life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, will now be available in Maine without a prescription.
Lawmakers voted to override a veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage Friday, passing a law that eases access to the drug otherwise known as Naloxone.
"The vote is really very simple," said Sen. Cathy Breen (D-Falmouth). "It's about saving the lives of Mainers who are struggling with addiction."
The new law allows people to go to a pharmacy, such as CVS, and get Narcan from the pharmacist.
"It will certainly make our jobs a lot easier," said Kenney Miller, who works with people struggling addiction through the Health Equity Alliance in Maine. "Rather than sending people to a physician, we can just send them down the street to their local CVS."
LePage opposed the legislation because he said it normalized heroin use and provided a safety net that would encourage people to use.
"Naloxone does not truly save lives, it merely extends them until the next overdose," said Gov. LePage in his veto message. "Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of Naloxone in the other ... serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction."
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of overriding the veto. In the Senate, the vote was 29-5. In the House, it was 132-14.
Republican Rep. Jeff Timberlake had initially voted against the bill, but Friday, decided to support the override.
He said he wrestled with his decision, but ultimately thought it was the way to save the most lives.
"I'm a pro-life person," he said. "How could I possibly take the chance for somebody to live away from them?"
Similar laws have been passed in states all over the country, including every other New England state. The law in Maine should go into effect in 90 days.