State Rep. Robert Watson has checked into inpatient rehabilitation following his second arrest on marijuana possession charges in nine months. Watson, the former House Republican leader, was arrested early Sunday in South Kingstown. According to a police report, Watson cursed at the responding officers and was seen holding an open beer can while seated in his stopped vehicle. Police found marijuana and a pipe inside the car. Watson, 51, of East Greenwich, was first elected to the House in 1992 and hasn’t announced whether he’ll seek another term this fall. State GOP Chairman Mark Zaccaria said he won’t pressure Watson to step down. “He’s entered a residential rehab program,” Zaccaria said. “That shows he recognizes that he has a medical problem and he’s getting treatment. Ultimately, it will fall to the voters in East Greenwich next November to decide whether he stays. If there is going to be a decision (to resign), then it’s his to make.”
Watson is awaiting trial related to an April arrest in East Haven, where he was charged with marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence. He has pleaded not guilty and has said he had the marijuana to treat pain from pancreatitis but didn’t smoke the day of his arrest. Watson’s attorney in that case, Jack O’Donnell, said it was too soon to know whether Watson’s most recent arrest could impact the Connecticut case. O’Donnell said Watson would need to find an attorney in Rhode Island to represent him in the new case. Attempts to reach Watson on Monday were unsuccessful. O’Donnell said he didn’t know where Watson is receiving treatment or how long he expects to stay. House Minority Leader Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield, said it’s up to Watson and his constituents to decide whether he should continue as their representative. Newberry was tapped to lead the 10-member House GOP caucus last spring following Watson’s arrest. Newberry said he hasn’t spoken to Watson following Sunday’s arrest. “Obviously, he has some type of personal issue,” Newberry said. “It’s unfortunate. I hope he gets better.”
According to the police report on the latest arrest, officers located Watson’s vehicle in a parking lot late Saturday after a snowplow driver called to report an erratic driver. Officers said Watson’s Volvo appeared to be stuck in deep snow and was missing its front left tire. Watson was standing outside when the first officer arrived. The officer asked Watson to get back in his vehicle to stay warm and said he later saw Watson holding an open can of beer inside the car. The officer said Watson handed over the can “reluctantly.”Watson told the officer: “Do you know who I am? I’m the E.G. (East Greenwich) rep,” according to the report, and he later cursed at the officers, police said. According to the report, Watson slurred his words and appeared to be “highly intoxicated.” A pipe and a substance later confirmed to be marijuana were found in Watson’s car, along with the open beer can and two unopened beer bottles. Watson’s missing tire was located Sunday morning by police. He is scheduled to appear in court in South Kingstown on Feb. 2.
via : courant
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