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As of this week, medical marijuana prescriptions are now available to New Yorkers suffering from chronic pain.

Added to the state’s list of qualifying conditions in December by the New York Department of Health, this new condition should bolster the Empire State’s flailing medical marijuana market. As of this January, only 12,993 patients in New York had prescriptions for medical marijuana in a state with nearly 20 million people.

Out of those 12,993 patients, according to ABC Rochester, only 10,250 patients used their medical marijuana prescription to purchase medical cannabis; half of those 10,250 patients returned to purchase more medical marijuana.

Additionally, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can now prescribe medical cannabis. This big change will make it more convenient for prospective patients to gain safe access to medical marijuana.

Later this year, New York will license five more companies to grow medical cannabis and open more medical marijuana dispensaries.

As Marijuana.com recently reported, the state’s five medical marijuana companies have been struggling financially. This addition of chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions should add thousands of patients and immediately bolster New York’s medical marijuana market.

VICELAND’s “Bong Appetit” cannabis producer Jason Pinsky noted that this change would help ease pain for New Yorkers like him:

New York’s addition of chronic pain to its medical marijuana program can help people conquer opioid addiction with cannabis like I did. Cannabis is a safer alternative to pain pills and, despite Jeff Sessions’ recent comments, is not at all dangerous. States with medical marijuana see a 25% decrease in opioid overdoses every year, and New York should be no different.

A study published last year by the American Journal of Health found that states with legal medical marijuana saw “reduction in testing positive for opioids after dying in a car accident.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently stated that marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than marijuana. Sessions also laughed at the notion legalizing marijuana could solve the nation’s opioid epidemic.

In 2015, there were 20,101 overdose deaths caused by prescription pain pills and 12,990 deaths caused by heroin overdoses.