Question 4 on the Massachusetts state ballot asks voters if cannabis should be legalized and regulated for adults over 21, and polls are showing strong support for legalization. Prohibitionists are terrified. Some anti-weed crusaders are responding in exactly the ways you’d expect them to: by targeting voters with inaccurate data, flawed logic and ‘think of the children and families’ scare tactics.
The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts is using the story of a widow whose husband, a state trooper, was killed in a car accident by a man who tested positive for cannabis.
“I think there is going to be more accidents, there’s going to be more fatalities,” Reisa Clardy says in a video. “You’re going to have more families that are going to be without their loved ones because we’re putting more people at risk.”
Reisa Clardy’s husband, Trooper Thomas Clardy, was killed March 16 in Charlton by 30-year-old David Njuguna. Prosecutors claimed during his arraignment that Njuguna was under the influence of cannabis at the time of the crash, and was later charged with manslaughter. Njuguna had four joints on him at the time of the crash and had a card to legally carry medicinal cannabis.
The Clardy family’s story is a tragic one and it is irresponsible for anyone to drive under the influence of any substance. However, there are a few key points left out of this narrative.
When you look at the numbers, it’s easy to craft a story that crashes “involving” marijuana use have tripled during the last decade. The problem is, when police and prosecutors say “involving marijuana”, that usually means the presence of THC was found in the system of the person responsible for the crash.
Time and time again, accident and police reports contain the caveat that the presence of THC in someone’s system is an indicator of past cannabis use, not necessarily a measurement of impairment. Levels of THC can be found in urine samples alone for 2-4 weeks after use, sometimes more. There aren’t any definitive numbers for how many car accidents that were the direct result of cannabis impairment. There are exact figures for alcohol related crashes, though. In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
The video of the widow is one of several released in a series of misleading videos on The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts’ YouTube Channel warning voters of the alleged dangers of legalization. Of course, they have disabled comments and ratings on all of their videos to avoid any kind of public scrutiny of their claims.
If you live in Massachusetts or know someone who does, don’t fall victim to these scare tactics and faulty “stats” that are only used to confuse voters.