12/03/2013 05:18 EST | Updated 02/02/2014 05:59 EST

RCMP boss 'disappointed' by pot-smoking N.B. Mountie

The head of the RCMP says he's embarrassed and disappointed after a New Brunswick Mountie made national headlines last week for smoking marijuana for medicinal reasons while in uniform.

Commissioner Bob Paulson told a House of Commons committee Tuesday the force tried to discourage Cpl. Ron Francis, who serves with J Division in Fredericton, from going public.

"It was very, very awkward and disappointing to see how, despite extensive efforts from our commanders in New Brunswick and other staff that we were unable to dissuade him from going to the media," Paulson said in response to a question from Saint John MP Rodney Weston about the situation.

"I was pretty disappointed, frankly, to see that story because I'm still trying to figure out what the story was. And I was sad for the member, and I think his colleagues were sad for him," said Paulson.

"It was all very embarrassing, I think for not just the force, but for Canadians."

Francis, a 21-year veteran of the RCMP, has a prescription for medicinal marijuana. He says it helps reduce his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and calm him down.

He contends he should be able to smoke the drug while in uniform and did so publicly after he said he had been ordered by RCMP bosses not to.

Francis had his regular work uniform seized from his Kingsclear First Nation home by two RCMP officers on Nov. 28 and turned in his red serge uniform the following day, as instructed.

He still has his badge, but is on medical leave.