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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — University of New Mexico researchers say the legal availability of medical marijuana has the potential to reduce opioid use among chronic pain patients.

The work of associate psychology professor Jacob Miguel Vigil and assistant economics professor Sarah See Stith was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The results indicate a strong correlation between enrollment in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program and cessation or reduction of opioid use.

Vigil says informal surveys showed a significant proportion of patients substituted their opioid prescriptions with cannabis.

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The study tracked 37 habitual opioid using, chronic pain patients who enrolled in the state medical marijuana program between 2010 and 2015, compared to 29 patients with similar health conditions who didn’t enroll.

As of October, more than 44,000 people were enrolled in the state program.