Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

This time, Pasco man's marijuana fashion statement goes unchallenged

NEW PORT RICHEY — The last time Alfred Robinson wore his pot shirt to court, he was put in handcuffs.

So, understandably, he was a bit more trepidatious when he got dressed Monday morning for another hearing in his cultivation of marijuana case. Still, he wore the shirt, with its large green marijuana leaf on the back and the slogan "I'm a patient, not a criminal" on the front.

But he had a backup plan. While he sat there waiting for Circuit Judge Mary Handsel to call his lawyer's name, the purple collar of a button-up shirt peeked out around his neck.

Just in case.

"I was a little nervous about wearing the shirt (again)," Robinson said. "But somebody has to stand up to this."

The 57-year-old self-described "medical marijuana missionary" was arrested in July after Pasco County sheriff's deputies found two marijuana plants on the 5 acres where he lives in Shady Hills. He had more plants, he said, but he burned them before deputies arrived.

Robinson, who's had several marijuana arrests dating back to 1979, said he uses the drug to alleviate his severe back pain. He has degenerative disc disease, and the court file says he also suffers from anxiety, sleeplessness, depression and chest pains.

"I don't know if the marijuana kills the pain or makes me forget the pain," he said, "but it doesn't matter whether it does. It just does."

At his last hearing in January, Circuit Judge William Webb had Robinson put in handcuffs and threatened to hold him in contempt if he wore the marijuana T-shirt to court again. His lawyer, Michael Minardi, filed a motion to disqualify Webb, citing First Amendment concerns and a fear that Robinson wouldn't get a fair trial.

That motion was granted, so Minardi and Robinson found themselves in front of Handsel on Monday.

Minardi moved to suppress the evidence — namely, the two marijuana plants because of the way deputies entered Robinson's property. The arrest report said the Sheriff's Office got Robinson's consent. Robinson and Minardi say there's a no-trespassing sign.

Minardi also moved to have the charge dropped, citing the passage of measures in other states legalizing medicinal marijuana use.

Before he left the courtroom, Robinson teared up as he talked passionately about the reason he supports the legalization of marijuana.

"I want it to be legal so I can help other patients who need it," he said. "I'll grow it for them, and I'll give it to them."

If Handsel noticed Robinson's shirt, she didn't mention it. She scheduled a followup hearing for June 14 to consider both of Minardi's motions.

Outside the courtroom, Minardi said he was pleased with the outcome.

"We've gotten a new judge who obviously didn't threaten to hold him in contempt," he said.

"And that's a positive," Robinson added.

Contact Jon Silman at (727) 869-6229, [email protected] or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.

Comments
Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays first baseman Jake Bauers sat at his locker after Sunday afternoon's 7-6, 12-inning win over the Yankees and thumbed through his text messages. There was no way he could get through them all. That's what happens when ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Yarbrough was only supposed to throw on Sunday if it was an emergency. In the 12th inning with the score tied 6-6 and a runner on first, there was an emergency.Jonny Venters tweaked his right hamstring trying to cover firs...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

Hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

A Tampa man suffered life-threatening injuries and his 3-year-old son is in serious condition after being struck by a hit-and-run driver as they went on a family bike ride Sunday afternoon."This is a family in a very tough situation," Tampa police Ch...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays season turning into good one

Rays season turning into good one

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays are not the best team in baseball. They are not going to win the World Series this year. Heck, they probably won't even make the playoffs.But I tell you what. This team is a heck of a lot of fun to watch.And ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, local players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But hockey?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forwar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

ST. PETERSBURGSuspect dead, 2 injured in home invasion, shootingThree people forced their way into a St. Petersburg house before dawn Sunday before gunfire broke out, killing a suspect and injuring two residents, police said.About 5:30 a.m., the peop...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. Thatís what 19-year-old Ce...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A 19-year-old driver died in a three-car crash on Moon Lake Road on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.Jillian Faith Hitt, 19 and of New Port Richey, was driving north on the road in a 2008 Hyundai Accent, weari...
Updated: 6 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Updated: 7 hours ago