Pubdate: Thu, 19 May 2016
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2016 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.
Author: Matt Stout
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday decried the "proliferation" of pot use 
and called on authorities to prosecute to the "fullest" extent of the 
law a Webster man accused of being high in a crash that killed a 
state trooper, sparking a renewed focus on the state's marijuana laws 
amid a heated debate on legalization.

Police said David Njuguna was driving "impaired" after visiting a 
medical marijuana dispensary in Brookline and had a half-burnt 
marijuana cigarette in his car when he slammed into trooper Thomas L. 
Clardy's SUV in mid-March, killing the veteran officer.

The case comes as voters gird for a likely ballot question in 
November asking them to legalize marijuana, a prospect that's had 
Baker, Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, Mayor Martin J. Walsh 
and others line up in opposition of the push.

"Governor Baker has serious concerns about the negative effects 
associated with the proliferation of marijuana use ... and hopes the 
person responsible for this tragic incident is prosecuted to the 
fullest extent of the law," Baker spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton said in a 
statement, adding that the Swampscott Republican and others are 
working against the legalization effort "that would lead to expanded 
use as the commonwealth fights the deadly opioid and heroin epidemic."

How the case may influence the public discourse over legalization, 
however, is unclear. Corey Welford, a spokesman for the 
anti-legalization group dubbed a Campaign for a Safe & Healthy 
Massachusetts, declined to comment yesterday.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the group pushing the ballot 
initiative, also declined to weigh in.

Other legalization opponents were cautious to tie Njuguna's case to 
their cause.

"While we don't know all of the facts and circumstances around this 
individual's alleged use of marijuana, we continue to have very 
serious public safety concerns about widespread marijuana use and 
impaired driving," said Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, spokeswoman for Attorney 
General Maura Healey, in an email.

Seth Gitell, a spokesman for DeLeo, said the tragedy is a reminder of 
driving impaired - "whether by alcohol or other substances."

"It is Speaker DeLeo's hope that the defendant be prosecuted to the 
fullest extent under existing law - as authorities appear to be 
doing," Gitell said in a statement.

As for Walsh, the mayor declined to comment yesterday "out of respect 
for the family" of trooper Clardy.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom