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RCMP says no to drugs

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Cpl. Ronald Francis, of the RCMP’s J Division in New Brunswick, has recently stirred up controversy after advocating for his right to smoke marijuana while in uniform.

Francis, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and commenced treatment eight years ago, was granted a medical marijuana prescription at the beginning of November. He reports he starts his day smoking a marijuana joint, has one at lunch, and his last one in the evening. Francis states the relaxation it induces has improved his life.

He is currently assigned to administrative duties and insists the marijuana consumption does not affect his work performance. He has no plans of ceasing his marijuana habit while on duty, revealing that the RCMP’s policies do not have any sanctions against the practice.

Despite the fact that the RCMP’s policies do not explicitly criminalize marijuana consumption on the job for medical purposes, Gilles Moreau, RCMP assistant officer, articulated that the RCMP would not condone any employee partaking in this activity while in public, or in uniform.

The problem here is that Francis has a valid, medical reason for his marijuana use. Adam Greenblatt, president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, disagreed with the RCMP’s decision. Greenblatt explained that if a RCMP employee was required to take insulin during work for his health, that would not be questioned and that the same treatment should be offered to Francis and his medical condition.

The RCMP cites public perception as a main factor in their decision to prohibit Francis from smoking marijuana while in uniform. By banning this medical practice, the RCMP is perpetuating the stereotypes associated with marijuana use. Furthermore, social stigma is not a solid reason to ban a behavior, particularly when the behavior is in compliance with current legislation.

The case of Ronald Francis demonstrates that the wide-range of benefits that marijuana has been shown to offer is continuing to be downplayed by the perception associated with it. By changing public perception, medical and responsible use of marijuana is not only possible but a powerful tool.

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