Every little thing has not been all right for this Rastafarian.
Robert Joseph Simmons, 33, believes he doesn’t need a medical card to possess marijuana because buds are a “core tenet” of his religion. At least, that was the Belmont resident’s claim after he was busted in April 2011 with more than 2½ pounds of pot and 13 pills of hydromorphine, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Since then, things have only become less irie for Simmons. On Tuesday, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up for a court hearing on the drug charges. Simmons claimed on his Facebook page that he had an anxiety attack and went to a hospital. His attorney, Jeff Hayden, also claimed in court Wednesday that Simmons had been admitted to a hospital.
“Call me my peeps,” Simmons reportedly wrote on his Facebook page from the hospital Tuesday. “San Mateo County D.A. is trying to give me 8 yrs.”
Simmons has been battling pot charges since his first bust in 2007, when he claimed to be a minister in the Rastafari religion. He cited his First Amendment rights, but the argument was rejected and he was sentenced to prison time for a probation violation, Wagstaffe said.
On April 7, 2011, Simmons was the passenger in a car that was pulled over in San Mateo. He was on parole at the time and police searched him and allegedly found the drugs. Again he proclaimed to authorities that “he’s a Rastafarian with the right to have the marijuana” and thus didn’t need a medical marijuana card, Wagstaffe said.
Initially, Simmons was found not competent to stand trial last year and committed to Napa State Hospital for five months. Upon his release, however, prosecutors moved to retry the case.
On Monday, Wagstaffe said, the prosecution announced it was ready for the trial. But Simmons reportedly could not make up his mind on whether to plead guilty and avoid a trial. Although he asked for more time to “reflect on his decision,” Simmons was ordered to return to court Tuesday to announce his decision, but failed to show.
Attempts to contact Simmons were unsuccessful Wednesday. Even his attorney has had difficulty reaching him. Hayden went so far as to ask The San Francisco Examiner to include a message that he wants Simmons to call him.
“I want to get him into court before he’s arrested on the bench warrant,” Hayden said.
Simmons’ illegal marijuana business is advertised on Yelp. Reviews suggest he’s been selling as recently as last month.
“He arrived at my home with-in 30 minutes, he had a very superb selection,” according to a review dated April 9.