RCMP boss embarrassed for pot-smoking Mountie who went public with complaint

OTTAWA – RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says he’s very embarrassed for a New Brunswick Mountie who rankled the national police force by smoking medicinal marijuana in uniform.

Paulson told a House of Commons committee Tuesday it was “awkward and disappointing” to see Cpl. Ron Francis make headlines after the force discouraged him from going public.

Francis attracted widespread attention when the CBC aired a video clip of him puffing away at a joint in full ceremonial dress and insisting he has a right to smoke marijuana in uniform.

The veteran Mountie, assigned to administrative duties, tearfully returned his red serge last week after his regular uniforms were seized by the force. He accuses the government and the RCMP of not doing enough to support members like himself who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Asked about the case by New Brunswick Tory MP Rodney Weston, Paulson called it a “particularly difficult and delicate situation.”

“So it was very, very awkward and disappointing to see how — despite extensive efforts from our commanders in New Brunswick and other staff — that we were unable to dissuade him from going to the media,” Paulson said.

“I’m still trying to figure out what the story was. And I was sad for the member, and I think his colleagues were sad for him. It was all very embarrassing, I think, for not just the force but for Canadians.”

The RCMP says officers with a prescription to smoke pot for medicinal purposes should not be in red serge or regular uniform while taking their medication as it sends the wrong message.

At the committee meeting, Weston said some of his Saint John constituents were confused by the RCMP’s response.

Paulson said RCMP policy dictates how force members deal with the media and present themselves publicly.

“The member in question was spoken to ahead of this incident, asked not to do what he’d done,” he said. “But he’s not in a good place. And so consequently it got away on a bunch of people, and it gained an enormous public aspect that really didn’t do the member, I think, any service.”

It is RCMP policy to avoid putting officers who take mind-altering medications on frontline police duty, Paulson said. In addition, the RCMP’s health services branch works with a member’s doctor to ensure they understand the full range of available treatment options, he added.

Paulson acknowledged that the Francis case prompts thorny questions.

“It did raise, I suppose, some issues with respect to managing members or employees of organizations — particularly those engaged in public safety — who are prescribed medical marijuana.”

The RCMP has come under scrutiny in recent years over how it treats members with psychological injuries sustained on duty.

Paulson said that “members from time to time encounter difficulty and need our support” — a reality that is growing within the force.

The RCMP says it will try to help members suffering from stress-related injuries. But it will not hesitate to medically discharge members who are ultimately unable to return to a useful role within the force.

Ultimately, in the case of Francis, the RCMP acted to make sure he wasn’t exploited by others, Paulson said.

“I feel very embarrassed for the member and hopefully we can help him along.”




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RCMP boss embarrassed for pot-smoking Mountie who went public with complaint

  1. Mounties as an org are suffering enormous cognitive dissonance. They’ve been arresting, shooting and or beating marijuana users for decades and now they have to come to terms with the fact it’s not dangerous, not addictive and they destroyed all those lives on the basis a racist law passed on the basis of nothing back in the 20′s.

    But they should just man up and suck it up.

    • It’s the federal government that is responsible for the law. The RCMP just (to various degrees) enforces it.

      If you want to blame someone for the fact that marijuana has not been legalized or even just decriminalized, blame Harper, Martin, Chretien, Mulroney, Trudeau, etc.

      • In a way Jim_R is correct, but only in a formal way. That is, the authority system agrees with you, and the people in the RCMP and government believe in the authority system.

        The problem is that the cognitive dissonance and resulting shame Bill Owen mentions are still every bit as real, because an authority system is an illusion draped over real human behaviour. But “man up and suck it up” won’t help, because it plays to the same macho culture that is the biggest part of the problem.

        The sad thing is that the RCMP is automatically defensive because they’re already besieged on far more disturbing grounds; they know the public is losing trust in them, and feel this will make it worse. If the trust was there, this would basically be a big laugh – we would trust the red serge with or without the tinge of smoke, and sadly acknowledge that PTSD is real and that cannabis treats it for about three hours at a time – so yeah, the guy needs to toke.

        But even if the trust was still there, it would have been a couple of years too soon to make a public deal of it. Within five years the stuff will certainly be legal, but Canadians still won’t trust the RCMP.

        • Man up and suck it up is actually not good advice. That phraseology was a ham handed parody of RCMP ‘values’.

          That’s an excellent point about the causes of their sensitivity. People have very much lost their trust in the Mounties. They used to be “good”, but that hasn’t been the case for a long time. I have no idea what happened to them, but it did.

      • The police very much get to decide which laws to enforce. Of course there is the CCC, which has many many laws. A lot of which are just ignored or lukewarmly enforced.

        Your point about root causes is well taken. I agree that pusillanimous pandering pols are the cause.

  2. He is embarrassed by the show of the soldier’s manifestation of PTSD? How about compassion?

  3. Commissioner Paulson ,I read your comments. I’m embarrased for you.

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