Pot-smoking Mountie's lawyer questions motive of assessment
Cpl. Ron Francis may have been sent for psychiatric evaluation to keep him quiet, lawyer suggests
A lawyer representing a New Brunswick Mountie who made national headlines in November for publicly smoking medical marijuana while in uniform is questioning the RCMP's motives for seeking a psychiatric assessment of his client.
T.J. Burke wonders whether the RCMP were trying to stop Cpl. Ron Francis from taking his case to the media again.
Francis, who has a prescription for medical-grade marijuana to help him cope with his work-induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), had publicly argued he should be able to smoke the drug in uniform.
The 21-year veteran of the RCMP, who was subsequently put on medical leave, was then arrested in Fredericton on Dec. 6 after a confrontation with fellow Mounties and city police officers.
The RCMP had a Form 1 document, signed by a police doctor, that allowed Francis to be detained temporarily under the Mental Health Act.
Francis was charged the following day with assaulting a police officer and a provincial court judge agreed with the prosecution's request to send him for a 30-day assessment at the Restigouche Hospital Center in Campbellton to determine if he's fit to stand trial.
"Was it a legitimate document? Was it a valid document?" asked Burke.
"Was it a document that was just created by the RCMP to see Mr. Francis sent away for 30 days so he would stop speaking about his issue with regards to medicinal marijuana to the press?"
The head of prosecutions in the attorney general's office has declined to comment on the case.
Burke had objected to the form, saying key information was missing, while Francis disagreed with the assessment.
"He does not believe the Form 1 was valid and that the arrest that took place with respect to assaulting a police office was not justified," Burke said.
Francis is scheduled to return to court on Monday.
While it's his medical marijuana use that's getting attention, Burke contends the real issue is his client's PTSD.
"And I think once people get a better appreciation for that, they'll understand what is happening with Cpl. Ron Francis," he said