DENVER (CBS4) - The best-laid plans of Colorado's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division have backfired, leading to what one lawmaker is calling gross government excess.
4 On Your Side Investigator Brian Maass found the state agency ended up with more vehicles than workers. There were some things they didn't take into account in their planning, so now their flub will end up costing the public.
The Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division was banking on collecting huge fees from dispensaries. Now they're collecting criticism.
CBS4 found that last year the medical marijuana enforcement staff signed an eight-year lease for two dozen brand new vehicles, mostly 4x4 monster black SUVs that cost $30,000 apiece.
Requisition forms say the SUVs were critical so enforcement agents could go off road. The lease for the tricked-out SUVs costs nearly $750,000. But in a matter of months after signing the lease, the agency found fees were not rolling in and it wasn't going to grow, but was going to have to cut staff from 37 down to just 12 employees.
"They expected that the licensing money would come in faster than it did, so the expectations were not fulfilled," department spokesperson Mark Couch said.
Couch said they signed on the dotted line for a fleet of SUVS assuming they would be used.
"We ended up with more vehicles than we needed," Couch said.
Stacked up with more SUVs than staff, the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has now farmed out 15 of the monster SUVs to other state agencies that may not really need them, but have them anyway.
A couple went to Auto Industry Enforcement, two others to gaming, one to the agency that oversees horse and greyhound racing, five others to the Department of Personnel, five to the Colorado State Patrol -- agencies that may not need full-size, 17 mile a gallon kitted out SUVs, and could have done with more economical, fuel-efficient cars.
"I want to see systems that take the least expensive route possible, and what I see here is I believe the opposite," state Sen. Kevin Lundberg said.
Lundberg calls what CBS4 found government excess and a waste of public money.
"It looks like a bureaucracy that had too many dollars to spend, and guess what they did? They spent it," Lundberg said.
Lundberg believes CBS4's investigation shows more controls are needed on government spending because he says without such controls government grows out of proportion and he says that's what happened in this case.
- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com
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