When asked if he could tell that he would not use illegal drugs again, state Rep. Bob Watson skirted the question, saying that he was working with his medical team on a plan to tackle his health issues.
Watson, a Republican respresenting East Greenwich, R.I., was and charged with possession of marijuana as well as driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia after he was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint by East Haven police.
Watson acknowledged in a speech in the General Assembly last week that he could have participated in the medical marijuana program, but that he had chosen not to. He said he had not smoked marijuana on the day of the arrest, but that he had smoked it on occasion to deal with pain from pancreatitis attacks he’d suffered starting last November.
“I’m not certain I want to participate in the medical marijuana program,” he told his colleagues, citing a concern that his privacy could be in jeopardy because of his public stature.
“It is a recognized medical treatment as it relates to pain,” Watson said Monday after he and local state senators Dawson Hodgson and Glen Shibley met with the Town Council to discuss State House issues that could affect the town.
“I’ve had considerable discussions with my doctors [about marijuana] as a viable treatment option,” Watson said, referring to the state medical marijuana program. The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a law in 2006 legalizing marijuana for people with certain medical conditions.
“I’m entitled to … privacy,” he said. “I do recognize that the program continues to be provocative in some quarters.” He said he was “deep into the review” with his doctors about whether or not to obtain a marijuana prescription.
“My medical issues are public yet I will continue to maintain what level of privacy I can,” said Watson. “My personal health is nobody’s business but it appears to be everybody’s.”
Legislators, councilors discuss state budget; binding arbitration
During the session with town officials, Watson, Dawson and Shibley, all Republicans, expressed frustration that their lack of numbers made it hard to affect change at the State House.
Each questioned whether or not the General Assembly would have the “intestinal fortitude” to make budget cuts in the face of large budget deficits.
Both Town Council President Michael Isaacs and School Committee Chairwoman Deidre Gifford asked about the probability of passage for a binding arbitration bill in the General Assembly now.
The bill would allow a third party to determine the terms of a contract after negotiations between labor and management have broken down. Both the School Committee and the Town Council have come out against such a bill, which they say would strip them of the power to negotiate contracts with workers such as teachers.
All three state legislators said they are against binding arbitration. Watson said he was hopeful that the bill would not pass in the House; Hodgson and Shibley were less optimistic about its chances in the Senate.
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