Congressional hearing on Feds' decision not to fight legalization of recreational marijuana

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is facing criticism over its attempt to straddle the federal law that makes marijuana illegal and state laws that permit recreational use of the drug.

In the first congressional hearing since the administration announced a new, permissive enforcement policy, law enforcement and drug-prevention groups and their congressional allies see an opportunity to push back. The administration's Aug. 29 announcement allows the two states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized -- Colorado and Washington -- to go their own way without federal interference as long as they implement strong enforcement systems.

The lead witness at Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was to be Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who signed the guidance putting the new marijuana enforcement standards in place.