Cpl. Ron Francis turns in RCMP serge after pot controversy
WARNING: Video contains graphic language
The New Brunswick Mountie at the centre of a debate about smoking medicinal marijuana while wearing his police uniform turned over his formal RCMP red serge Friday.
Cpl. Ron Francis arrived at J Division headquarters in Fredericton as promised to hand over his dress uniform at noon.
RCMP officers had seized Francis's other uniforms and related apparel at his home Thursday night. Francis did not have his dress uniform at his home and said he would turn it over Friday.
Francis was ordered to turn the items in after he was photographed and videoed smoking marijuana in his uniform.
Francis, who is a member of the Maliseet First Nation, held an eagle feather in one hand throughout his visit to headquarters. Before handing over his dress uniform, Francis removed his medal for 20 years of exemplary service to the RCMP with shaking hands.
"It's my medal," a sobbing Francis said to reporters minutes later.
"They can have their uniform. This is my medal," he said. "I earned this. I earned it with my blood, my sweat, my tears.
"I have not one flaw on my service record," said Francis. "My only flaw is I stuck up for the Canadian people.
"And I'd stick up for this country because the government doesn't do anything for them."
Pot helps with PTSD
The 21-year veteran of the RCMP has a prescription for medical marijuana to deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder that he says is a result of his work. Francis believes he should be able to smoke medicinal marijuana while in uniform.
Francis still has his RCMP badge and remains a Mountie, but is on medical leave.
He was upset when fellow RCMP officers arrived at his home Thursday evening to collect his uniforms and gear.
The scene was captured on video by his cousin, and Francis provided a copy of it to CBC News. It contains strong language.
Maliseet elder Imelda Perley went to the station with Francis.
"I'm hoping he will keep his eagle feather, because that's going to be his elder. It's going to be his strength to know that there's a purpose waiting for him and once he gets over his physical part that's giving him struggles today, that he will be able to wear proudly the serge again, hopefully," she said.
Adam Greenblatt, executive director of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, said this sort of situation will increase as medical marijuana becomes more common.
"It does speak to this larger issue of accommodating the need for medical cannabis and accommodating the patients who use it," he said.
He said medical marijuana can legally be smoked or taken through vaporizers, but vaporizers can be too expensive for some people.
"Non-smoking alternatives such as cannabis-infused food products like cookies and tinctures and hashish products, these are illegal according to Health Canada," he said. "Patients are essentially being forced to smoke this medicine by the government's own regulations."
He said the Francis's case is bringing important issues to light and he hopes a good resolution is reached.