(NEW YORK) — New federal statistics show that marijuana usage is increasing.
An estimated 18.9 million people use marijuana, according to an annual survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In 2007, 5.8 percent of those surveyed said they had used the drug in the past month. That figure went up to 7.3 percent in 2012.
The latest statistics come as two states — Colorado and Washington — look to normalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana.
The federal government has said it won’t interfere with the legalization plans as long as those state follow certain rules.
Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would alter its policies to go easier on low-level drug offenders.
Despite the new approach, however, federal and local law enforcement agencies still spend a lot of time hunting down marijuana users and sellers. Marijuana made up 94 percent of the total amount of drugs seized by the agency in 2011, judging by weight, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
And nationally, a little more than half of all drug arrests were for marijuana in 2010, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
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Matt McFarland, CNN