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Cancer survivor fights cannabis stigma at her own dispensary

Courtesy of Cindy Ortiz
Cindy Ortiz (center) poses with the staff at her dispensary, Midnight Greens, on Route 42 in the township.

A 50-year-old breast cancer survivor has opened her own marijuana dispensary to minimize the stigma surrounding the plant and emphasize its benefits.

Cindy Ortiz’s Midnight Greens opened earlier this month on Route 42 in the township. She used cannabis as an alternative to opioids for the first time after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42.

“I … used cannabis for the first time to help deal with the surgeries and chemo,” she recalled.

“During the chemo,” said Cori Laphan, a close friend of Ortiz, “she had a hell of a time. She used marijuana and it really helped her get through everything.”

Ortiz decided to teach others about the benefits of the marijuana plant.

“When I realized how beneficial it was,” she recalled, “I tried to educate people on it and break the stigma around it. Most people associate it with stoners just looking to get high, but it helps with pain and helps reduce anxiety. Education is a big part of it (the dispensary).”

Another goal of Midnight Greens is to help women feel more comfortable shopping there.

“Our ultimate goal is to help make women more comfortable going in,” Laphan noted. “When I went in for the first time, I was really intimidated. But the employees were really helpful and they helped me feel more comfortable in there.”

“We have a VIP space to make it more female friendly,” Ortiz noted of the dispensary. “We’re trying to curate to the single moms, the soccer moms. We’re trying to make it more female friendly.”

Ortiz’ family was hesitant when she told them she was opening Midnight Greens. But that changed when they recognized the close community involved with the store.

“This is a professional business with a community behind it,” she pointed out. “The women involved in all of this really help each other out as well, which has helped ease my family.”

The business so far has earned positive reviews from customers, many of whom are seniors, according to Ortiz. The township has also been a help.

“The staff is wonderful and they know a lot,” observed Ortiz. “They’re very helpful and can answer any question about the plant.”

“She’s relatable, honest and she wants to help people,” Laphan said. “She’s very involved in the business. Seeing someone accomplish this, especially at her age, is truly amazing.”

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