Opinion Column

Pot-smoking Mountie an embarrassment 0

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver



The story of the pot-smoking Mountie — Cpl. Ron Francis of New Brunswick — has made international headlines. The RCMP brass are clearly frustrated and reacted by seizing his uniforms. This officer is embarrassing himself and the national police force.

While the RCMP has a “duty to accommodate” employees suffering medical difficulties under labour laws, the organization is under no obligation to allow him to tarnish its reputation by smoking marijuana while wearing any uniform, let alone the iconic red serge.

Francis claims to have post-traumatic stress disorder and has obtained a medical marijuana prescription to consume up to three grams of the controlled substance a day. PTSD is a legitimate concern, and there’s no doubt that the things you see, hear, smell and are subject to daily as a police officer can take their toll. To a degree, all cops suffer from some form of PTSD, but typically the condition manifests itself in occasional nightmares and cold sweats.

In more extreme cases, affected members require treatment that could take the form of counselling or medication. I had never heard of marijuana being used to address its symptoms, but there is much about this case that is a first for me.

This issue could also affect municipal police forces. I asked an Abbotsford police officer how his boss, Chief Const. Bob Rich, would handle such a case. He laughed and said, "You're kidding right? Nowhere to hide here. No one would dare do that. It's obvious how ridiculous that it is.”

In these enlightened days, cops are offered post-incident counselling if needed, stress leave and assorted other programs to help those who cannot emotionally deal with the demons of the job.

And that’s where Francis is embarrassing himself. Why would he not simply take stress leave and go deal with his demons, and come back healthy when he was ready? The concept of being fit for duty is central to the ability of any police officer being able to do their job. Being under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or any other mood-altering substance does not leave anyone in a state that could be called “fit for duty.”

The marijuana activists have tried to hijack this story, but this is just a smokescreen for the real issue. This is about one Mountie acting unprofessionally and trying to turn himself into a victim of “bullying” by the RCMP. He is nothing of the sort. He is an embarrassment to the men and women who proudly wear the uniform.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.





Should the pot-smoking Mountie have been stripped of his red serge?

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