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Op-Ed: Should pot-smoking Mountie have been made to turn in his uniform?

By Scott Tuttle     Dec 8, 2013 in Lifestyle
Recently, Cpl Ronald Francis, a 20-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was forced to turn in his uniform after being caught on video smoking a joint on duty. The problem is, he was doing it legally.
Francis was diagnosed eight years ago with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He attributes this mental condition to the stressful circumstances related to his job, but he would not reveal any specific traumatic event.
Canadian doctors started Francis off on a regimen of anti-depressants when the mental condition was first diagnosed, but this treatment proved to be ineffective for the New Brunswick Mountie. He then turned to alcohol before finally deciding to try alternative forms of medication.
On November 4, doctors gave Francis a prescription for up to three grams (about 15 joints) a day of medical marijuana. He currently smokes three times a day: at breakfast, lunch, and supper.
"It was for my own health. In doing that I realized that I have to come first. The organization doesn't come first, Ron Francis comes first. For my own health. And I'm glad I did that."
Marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in New Brunswick, and there is no official policy in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police against using this medication while on duty. That said, upon review of video footage showing the 20-year veteran lighting up a joint in public while wearing his red serge, superior officers responded swiftly by going to his house in person and asking Francis to turn over his uniform.
According to assistant commissioner Gilles Moreau, allowing officers to smoke cannabis in public while wearing the red serge could give onlookers the wrong impression of the organization.
Francis was not fired from the RCMP, but was banned from front-line duties, and assigned to administrative tasks only.
What should have been done with Francis? Whether or not it was fair to remove him from front-line duty, if the job was causing a level of stress warranting a prescription of 15 joints a day, then it was probably for his own good. If it is his health he is concerned about, he probably should have considered this option long before he began taking anti-depressants, booze, or even medical marijuana.
Perhaps it would have been more fair to give Francis a warning before taking away his uniform, but there have been far greater injustices in the world. He was allowed to remain with the force, he was not given a pay-cut, and he was permitted to continue with his medication.
As difficult as it may be to see a grown man tearfully hand over his uniform, we should not cry for him. Instead, we should be glad he was removed from the source of his debilitating stress and wish him the best in his quest for inner peace.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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