Mountie says he has 'legal right' to smoke medical marijuana in uniform
Published Thursday, November 28, 2013 5:30PM EST
A New Brunswick RCMP officer says he has a “legal right” to smoke medically-prescribed marijuana while in uniform, despite objections from his employer.
Cpl. Ronald Francis, who has been on the force for more than 20 years, was recently prescribed medical marijuana to help treat his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
He told CTV Atlantic that marijuana calms him down and allows him to focus on his job. Because of his PTSD, Francis has been placed on administrative duties and no longer carries a weapon.
But Francis said the RMCP does not want him to smoke the drug while in uniform.
“I have the legal right…and have the legal right to be in uniform because I represent members through the DSSR (Division Staff Relations Representative) program,” he said.
Francis later told the CBC later Thursday that his uniform had been seized.
He earlier told the CBC that his prescription allows him three grams of marijuana per day -- or nine to 15 joints, in his estimate. He said he typically has one joint in the morning, at lunchtime and in the evening.
In a news release Thursday, the RMCP said: “Any (RCMP) member on a mind-altering drug – such as marihuana, OxyContin, Dilaudid – is not permitted to perform operational duties, including carrying a firearm or operating a police vehicle, as this could pose a risk to themselves, a co-worker or the public.”
The RCMP said PTSD and other work-related injuries are “a real issue for our organization that we take very seriously.
“The Commissioner has made it clear both publicly and to the employees of the RCMP that if you get sick or injured on the job, we will look after you – and we will do it fairly.”
The news release did not mention whether there is a policy specifically prohibiting officers from smoking medical marijuana on the job.
In a statement to CTV News, the office of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said: “We expect RCMP members to conduct themselves with the highest integrity and professionalism that comes with their great duty to protect Canadians.”
The statement went on to say that Blaney “has asked the RCMP Commissioner to take action on this issue and we have been assured that medical treatment of members will not impact the safety of Canadians.”
Francis told CTV Atlantic that he fears his outspokenness may end his policing career.
But he says if the RCMP decides to fire him, he will fight back.
“If they plan to fire me, I will sue them, there’s no doubt about that.”
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Andy Campbell