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Dr. Chinazo Cunningham has treated thousands of chronic pain patients over the past two decades. Many of them have asked for opioids; they sometimes even request a specific kind of prescription painkiller. But the ones who don’t seek out opioids have intrigued the primary care physician.

There’s a common refrain among those patients: Marijuana helped.


Cunningham, the 49-year-old associate chief of general internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center, doesn’t feel strongly about whether states should legalize marijuana. But with thousands of fatal opioid overdoses each year, she started to wonder: Does marijuana work well enough to lower the amount of painkillers prescribed?

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