The widow of a state trooper killed by a driver allegedly high on marijuana is speaking out against legalization of the drug in a wrenching new web video.
Reisa Clardy, whose husband was killed in March when a medical marijuana patient swerved across the highway and slammed into his cruiser, says, “There’s going to be more accidents, there’s going to be more fatalities, you’re going to have families that are going to be without their loved ones.”
The video, accompanied by soft, solemn music, comes just two weeks before voters decide a ballot measure that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts.
The anti-legalization campaign, which produced the video, does not appear to have the resources to turn it into a television advertisement. But strategists say they will pay for online distribution.
Clardy, sitting in a living room, recalls that her husband Thomas, a father of seven, “loved the job” of trooper, especially “being able to help others when in need.”
“Obviously, it changed my life greatly,” Clardy says. “My husband’s not here anymore. Daddy’s not going to come walking through that door one day.”
The video highlights the issue of “drugged driving,” at one point flashing text that reads, “In Washington, marijuana impaired traffic deaths have doubled in one year after legalization.”
A study by the American Automobile Association did find that, after legalization in Washington state, about twice as many drivers involved in fatal car crashes had marijuana in their systems.
There were similar increases in Colorado after voters legalized the drug in 2012. But researchers caution that marijuana stays in the system for days after someone smokes, making it difficult to attribute accidents to use of the drug. Many of the drivers in these accidents also had alcohol or other drugs in their systems.
In the Clardy case, prosecutors have alleged that the driver, David Njuguna, was in an “impaired state” when he struck the trooper’s vehicle. He had recently purchased at least three marijuana cigarettes, authorities say, and one was found half-burnt in his car after the crash.
Proponents of marijuana legalization on Monday expressed their condolences to Clardy.
“If the defendant in this case is convicted he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” the “Yes on 4” campaign said in a written statement.
But the campaign also noted that the state’s ability to prosecute such cases wouldn’t change if the ballot question is approved: “Question 4 makes no changes to state laws prohibiting driving under the influence of marijuana — that will remain illegal.”David Scharfenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe