CHICAGO (AP) — A law enforcement team put together to oversee the state’s medical cannabis program has been disbanded because of the Illinois budget crisis.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Illinois State Police stopped paying the officers at the end of June while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature continue their disagreement over a budget that was supposed to take effect July 1.

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“ISP is using existing staff to inspect facilities until the contract can be renewed,” state police spokesman Matt Boerwinkle said.

The seven investigators — retired state police troopers and supervisors and one former suburban deputy police chief — were paid $25 an hour to investigate alleged violations by medical marijuana growers or sellers.

The arrangement brought criticism because it went against Rauner’s pledge of reform and his opposition to public employees engaging in “double-dipping.” The Sun-Times reported the officers collected state pensions that average $8,000 a month while making as much as $52,000 a year as part of the state police medical marijuana unit.

The administration said it was a cost-saving measure.

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“Using contractual workers over current ISP officers helps control costs because it ensures current staffing levels are not strained, which could lead to additional overtime,” said Joseph Wright, director of the medical marijuana program.

State records indicate the team collected $158,000 in total for their work this year.

They were responsible for checking into potential wrongdoing by medical cannabis cultivators and dispensers. They inspected security systems, reviewed applications for would-be growers and sellers and educated other police about the program.


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