Trooper's widow urges a 'no' vote on legalizing marijuana

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Posted: Oct 25, 2016 12:07 PM
Trooper's widow urges a 'no' vote on legalizing marijuana

BOSTON (AP) — The widow of a state trooper killed by a driver accused of smoking marijuana before the crash is making an emotional plea against a ballot question that would legalize recreational marijuana.

Trooper Thomas Clardy, a father of seven, was killed in March when a medical marijuana patient crashed his vehicle into Clardy's cruiser. In a new web video, Reisa Clardy said she believes there will be more accidents and more fatalities if voters approve Question 4 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The driver, David Njuguna, of Webster, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, operating under the influence of drugs and other charges in Thomas Clardy's death. When he was arraigned in May, Njuguna's lawyer, Peter Ettenberg, said Njuguna "absolutely denies he was under the influence of any drugs." Ettenberg declined to comment further Tuesday.

Reisa Clardy said her husband was "a wonderful father" who always put his family first. She said his death changed their family's lives.

"My husband's not here anymore. Daddy's not going to come walking through that door one day," she said in the video.

Thomas Clardy had stopped a car for a traffic violation in Charlton when his cruiser was hit by Njuguna's vehicle. Witnesses said Njuguna's car swerved across all three travel lanes without slowing.

Prosecutors allege that Njuguna obtained three marijuana cigarettes from a medical dispensary for marijuana an hour before the crash.

Supporters say legalizing marijuana will give authorities the ability to tax and regulate it and is a better way of dealing with it than leaving it underground.

The Yes on 4 Campaign issued a statement in response to Reisa Clardy's video. The group expressed condolences to Clardy on the loss of her husband and said Njuguna, if convicted, should be "punished to the fullest extent of the law."

The group said Question 4 does not change state laws that prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana.

The ballot question would allow people 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational use and allow the home cultivation of up to 12 marijuana plants.

Recent polls have shown a majority of voters supports the ballot question.

The video was produced by an anti-legalization campaign.

"If it can happen to my family, it can happen to anybody's," Clardy said in the video. "Why would we take this risk right now?"

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This story summary has been corrected to show the trooper is from Massachusetts, not New Jersey.