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Pot-smoking Mountie ruled fit to stand trial for assault

Jan. 6, 2014 at 8:54 PM   |   Comments

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Canada's pot-smoking Mountie was found fit to stand trial Monday on charges he assaulted a colleague, and his attorney said he'll plead not guilty.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Ron Francis appeared in New Brunswick provincial court after undergoing a 30-day psychiatric assessment.

Francis was arrested Dec. 6 after a confrontation with fellow Mounties and Fredericton police officers. On Monday, he was slapped with an additional count of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

His attorney, T.J. Burke, requested additional time to review the evidence, and a plea hearing was set for Feb. 4.

Francis, who is free until then, will plead not guilty, Burke said after the day's proceedings.

"My client has instructed us, regardless of what is in the disclosure to enter a plea of not guilty and we'll have a criminal trial to determine his innocence or his guilt," Burke told reporters.

As conditions for his release, Francis agreed not to possess a firearm, not to use alcohol or non-prescription drugs, and to have no contact with his alleged victims.

Francis was placed on medical leave in November after being videotaped smoking medical marijuana while wearing his ceremonial uniform. He has a marijuana prescription to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder.

"As of Jan. 1, he was no longer on medical leave and now it becomes an issue of what the RCMP feels is appropriate for him to do," Burke said.

"Corporal Francis has a job to do and hopefully he can go back and do a job the RCMP [will] accommodate him in doing.

"It's been quite some time since he has carried a gun. He was put on a Category 4, which is basically you can have a badge, you can have a uniform, but you can't do any policing. So they've accommodated him in that aspect and I hope the RCMP continue to accommodate him."

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