RCMP officer defends right to smoke medicinal pot on the job
An RCMP officer in New Brunswick is defending his right to use medical marijuana on the job.
Ronald Francis has witnessed some disturbing incidents during his 21 years on the force and says it has taken a mental toll.
Last year, Francis was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and says smoking pot is the only way he can relax.
“In 20 years, I haven’t relaxed and neither do members who work on the frontlines because the RCMP studies themselves show that their system is never at rest, just because of the nature of the shiftwork,” says Francis.
Francis was treated with anti-depressants at first, but three weeks ago he was given a prescription for medical marijuana.
“It just calms you down, totally,” he says. “You don’t get stoned. You don’t get disoriented. It allows you to focus on your task.”
Because of his PTSD diagnosis, Francis no longer carries a weapon and has been limited to administrative duties. He says he also wants to smoke his prescribed pot at work.
“I have the legal right and have the legal right to be in uniform because I represent the members through the DSSR program,” he says.
The RCMP won’t say if it will allow Francis to light up to work, but the force has made it clear that it doesn’t want him smoking pot while in uniform.
In a written statement, the RCMP say it takes PTSD seriously, and that it continues to work to strengthen the support provided to employees who are affected by work-related injuries.
The statement says the commissioner has made it clear, both publicly and to the employees of the RCMP, that if officers get sick or injured on the job, the force will look after them.
But Francis says he doesn’t have much faith in the system.
“The organization as a whole is broken. The management is broken. The structure is broken,” he says.
Francis also fears his speaking out about the matter could get him in trouble, but he says he plans to fight the RCMP if it decides to cut ties.
“So, how they’re going to play this out, I don’t know. If they plan to fire me, I will sue them. There’s no doubt about that.”
The federal minister of public safety was supposed to address the issue in Ottawa on Thursday but that didn’t happen.
In a statement released by a spokesperson, the department says Minister Steven Blaney has asked the RCMP to take action on the issue and that they have been assured that medical treatment of members will not impact the safety of Canadians.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell