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Watson Declines To Say He Won’t Use Illegal Drugs

“My personal health is nobody’s business but it appears to be everybody’s,” Watson says after legislators meet with town officials Monday.

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.

Bill Gannon May 03, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Your medical issues are public because you made them (conveniently) so after getting busted for possession and DUI. I am one who believes in the legalization of drugs as a step toward ending the scourge of drug related violence in our society, but your disingenuous "explanation" of your situation reeks of political expediency and covering your derriere. It didn't take long for your "gay pot-smoking immigrant" reference to come back around and bite you there!
02818 May 03, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Boo-hoo Bob. What ever happened to having a little self-control and toughness? I had my wisdom teeth out a couple of weeks ago and never took any pain medication after. People's dependence on drugs is sickening.
Kathleen Gray May 03, 2011 at 08:49 PM
A simple "I am sorry, I made a mistake" statement by a politician when caught in the wrong would be so refreshing. Perhaps Mr. Watson can explain to us how to have this conversation with our teenagers. Ohhhh....it hurts...smoke this! Recreational is recreational and wrong is wrong. And after 19 years in public office one would think that you would have figured out your "private" life would be scrutinized.
Heather Larkin May 03, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Medical decisions SHOULD stay in the doctor's office. I hope Mr. Watson extends this sentiment to women's health, namely abortion. He has missed an opportunity to put a respectable public face on the issue of medical marijuana. If he really needed a prescription, he should have obtained one and properly used it, without shame and on his couch not behind the wheel. It all sounds like lame excuses now...
Renu Englehart May 03, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Mr. Watson chose to drive while impaired and faces the appropriate consequences. If he wanted to preserve his privacy regarding his alleged drug use, he should have received a prescription that would have been private due to the current health laws anyway. He also chose to self medicate with an illegal substance. If he can choose which laws he should follow, why should anyone else be different?

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