News Local/State

Durbin: Feds Will Have To Address Medical Marijuana Law

A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana in Colorado Springs.

In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, a worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

As Illinois begins to allow people with certain diseases to use cannabis as medicine, the state will be running afoul of federal law.

It may be spring before patients will be able to buy medical marijuana (the application process is going on now).  Whenever it happens, the state will be in tricky territory: the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.

That raises challenges, like: can an business in the cannabis industry deposit money in federally-regulated banks?

Other states are already dealing with the dilemma.  Colorado and Washington allow recreational pot. 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin -- a Democrat - said the government will have to resolve it.

"They talk about states being laboratories, and that's what we're seeing. Let's see what happens on the ground there," he said. 

Durbin said though he has supported the medicinal use, he's against decriminalizing marijuana. 

"Now there are some who want to say, 'now let's open the doors. Let's treat marijuana like chewing gum.," he said.  "I'm not, I’m not there yet.”

Durbin is running for re-election against State Sen. Jim Oberweis, who was one of a few Republicans to vote for Illinois' medical marijuana law.

Oberweis's campaign didn't return a call seeking comment. He has been quoted as being open to legalizing -- and taxing -- marijuana, but says that's a state, not a federal, issue.