Growing Organically

After 10 years at the helm of Santa Cruz Naturals, which has dispensaries in Aptos and near Watsonville, founder and CEO Colin Disheroon has much to celebrate. He has led the business from its nascent days as a medical marijuana dispensary to the present day, with the brand’s ethos still intact: organic, local, sustainable. The company is growing.

However, there is also much to lament. As cannabis has grown out of furtive gardens into a serious alternative medicine and now a big business opportunity, those involved have also changed. Disheroon says with the influx of billions of dollars and a labyrinth of regulations, he has watched neighborhood herbalists get replaced by lawyers and venture capitalists. He sees the current landscape as a “race to the bottom.”

“It’s unfortunate the cannabis industry has shifted from ground-level citizen opportunity into a big corporate structure,” he says. “That’s been a hard and unfortunate truth.”

Given all the changes over the last decade, Disheroon believes he is the longest-running dispensary operator in the Central Coast region.

Santa Cruz Naturals has been able to survive the corporate influx thanks to its relationship with the local community. The success has shown Disheroon there is still a market for locally-focused, organic products.

“I want to continue to grow organically for as long as possible,” he says. “I wanted to see Santa Cruz Naturals retain its ethos and brand colors.”

SANTA CRUZ NATURALS, 19 San Juan Road, Royal Oaks. 722-2018,

Christopher Neely covers a mixed beat that includes the environment, water politics, and Monterey County's Board of Supervisors. He began at the Weekly in 2021 after five years on the City Hall beat in Austin, TX.

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