By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With the first medical marijuana dispensaries expected to open this fall in Maryland, patients are registering now to gain access to the drug.

That has created a new kind of business when doctors say no, with one store in a Frederick strip mall already in place to fill a coming need.

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That need is the availability of medical marijuana in Maryland, when a doctor won’t sign off on its use.

“A lot of physicians aren’t comfortable recommending medical cannabis to their patients currently. But patients want to get into the program, so we’re here to help them out,” said Dr. Evan Edwards.

There’s no marijuana at the store, but for $200, Green Health Docs will examine patient records to see if they meet Maryland requirements to use medical marijuana.

An epidemic of opioid overdoses could play into that business model.

“They’ll start using opioids for their back pain or after surgery, and a fair amount actually become addicted to them, and move on to heroin and overdosing,” Dr. Edwards said. “We’re helping a lot of people dealing with chronic pain with a safer alternative with cannabis.”

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Chronic pain isn’t the only treatable condition. In earlier interviews, WJZ spoke with others helped by medical marijuana.

Gloria Gates found relief from her MS symptoms.

“It worked the very first time and it’s been an absolute blessing for me,” she said.

“MS patients have a better quality of life. People with glaucoma do much better, and especially for people who have been in auto accidents [who are] in chronic pain, it really does a great job for them,” said Dr. Thomas Bellavia.

In business less than a year, Green Health Docs has helped open the door to medical marijuana for 1,000 patients. It expects more once dispensaries open.

According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, 12,000 patients and 400 medical professional have registered for the marijuana progam.

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