RI lawmaker faces drug charges in Conn.

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A leading Rhode Island lawmaker who criticized the Legislature by invoking images of pot-smoking immigrants is facing drug charges in Connecticut.

Police in East Haven, Conn., say East Greenwich Republican Robert Watson, the House Minority Leader, was stopped at a police checkpoint Friday and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence.

According to a police report, authorities found a bag of suspected marijuana and a pipe in Watson’s pocket. Watson was released on $500 bond.

Watson issued a statement Monday acknowledging that police discovered “trace evidence” of marijuana but said he wasn’t driving under the influence.

“While confident I was a safe and sober operator, trace evidence of marijuana was discovered and I was charged with operating under the influence, a charge I vehemently deny,” he said.

Watson drew fire in February when he said lawmakers had their priorities right “if you are a Guatemalan gay man who likes to gamble and smokes marijuana.”

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