Portrait photo of Robert Debin of Natural State Medicinals. Robert is standing in the middle of an indoor grow facility at the NSM cultivation facility. Robert is surrounded by beautiful, flowering cannabis plants. The superimposed title text reads, "The Natural State of Excellence."Portrait photo of Robert Debin of Natural State Medicinals. Robert is standing in the middle of an indoor grow facility at the NSM cultivation facility. Robert is surrounded by beautiful, flowering cannabis plants. The superimposed title text reads, "The Natural State of Excellence."

Roots and Reefer: The Natural State of Excellence

Listen to this Roots and Reefer Podcast episode on Spotify
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Blog banner in a neat, classy font that reads, "The Natural State of Excellence, by Amanda Strickland, Photos by Matt White."

It’s a regular Thursday at The Source, and I’m on the sales floor when I hear, “Blackwater’s on the floor.” Like a buzz, the news sweeps around. I heard Montana, then May, then Hannah says something about it. By the time I get back to my computer to check the sales, we’ve already sold about 95 grams.


It makes a buzz.  

Blackwater, cultivated by Natural State Medicinals, is a flower strain that the budtenders at The Source taught me to go crazy over. Completely unique on the nose, Blackwater doesn’t smell like weed. It’s complex like a winter garden or a fruit you’ve never tasted. There’s art in the flavor profile.

It’s not always available, so when we have it, you should buy it.  

Blackwater, Dogtown, Commerce City Kush, Pixy Drip, Mac Daddy, Grandpa's Cookies, and Sour Tangie are all strains that take the spotlight when they hit the floor, and they are grown exclusively by Natural State for the Arkansas patient base.

That night at home, I popped open my deli jar to fill a cone, and the unique terpene profile of Blackwater filled the kitchen as I ground it up. There’s no better way to wind down after a long day than with this strain.

The story of Blackwater grows out of White Hall, Arkansas, home to the elite Arkansas cannabis cultivation business, Natural State Medicinals. Natural State stood apart from its competitors over the last five years, due to the simple fact that they have grown and produced some of the best cannabis products on the market.  

It’s no surprise that the laser-focused vision and steady leadership of one outstanding person was at the center of Natural State this entire time, and that’s Robert deBin – the company’s Co-founder and CEO.

Composed, yet distinctly passionate, Robert is a very young man to have so much experience. Now 34, Robert’s classic look is still boyish, and he has a disarming patience for listening. It’s hard to deny his sincerity once you get to know him.  

Robert’s journey with Natural State began before the company ever even had a name. He was a disciplined student of the Arkansas medical marijuana amendment movement. He attended every single planning meeting and became known for taking tedious notes. He gathered a group of investors and penned the perfect application. By 28 years old, he had spearheaded a successful application campaign, and The Natural State app was graded first place in a stack of nearly 100 applications.  

Robert celebrated by doubling down on his work ethic during the construction and opening of the company. In 2019, Natural State products launched in Arkansas dispensaries like a fireball and led the market early on, with patient-favorite flower strains like Crescendo #11 and Strawberry Cough. They mastered extraction, and in the kitchen, they created premium chocolates, micro-dose mints, and a topical that smells great and really works.  

They do it all well. Robert is interested in being the best, in all ways.

“Our commitment remains staunchly medicinal-focused, guiding us to make choices that prioritize patient well-being over business interests,” Robert says, and his vision is clear. “Products like topicals and suppositories, while not always the most commercially advantageous, represent our dedication to doing what's right for those we serve.”  

He is supported by a board of investors who have a common mission: prioritize patient well-being over business interests.

Robert just got back from vacation, where he spent time in a hammock sipping a piña colada and reading Murtagh, the latest book in the Eragon series, which he began reading in high school. “An actual novel,” he laughed, and admitted that this was his first vacation in 58 months.  

He checked the date on the phone; it’s March 8, 2024. “It’s been exactly five years since we got plants in the building,” meaning he hasn’t taken a weeklong vacation since Natural State began operating five years ago.

The perseverance is astounding, and I’m also not surprised when I hear that he’s been accused of micromanaging. He laughs when he says it, and that’s when I feel again like he’s wise beyond his years, “I understand how everything in the system works as a whole, so when we go to create a new product or something, I always insist that I review the steps with our team before they do it – because I’ve done each part of it so many times.” Robert has solved so many problems already that I can’t help but wonder what he might achieve by the time he reaches middle age.  


Natural State has over 80 strains in its library, and they have developed and released more than 300 extraction products - from full spectrum vapes to edibles in six different categories.


Shop Natural State Medicinals products we love here >>

NSM 3:1 Topical Lotion

Not only is this a miracle in topical lotion form, we love the way it smells. Used for aches, pains, stiffness, and soreness. It’s one of the most effective products on the market!

NSM Full Spectrum Advantage

The masters of “Whole Plant Extract and Reconstruction," the goal of full spec is to bring the natural state of the plant into a form factor that’s portable.


This classic strain unleashes our inner adventurer! Dogtown brings a sense of energy and creativity, making it the perfect companion for outdoor activities or artistic pursuits. Top Terps: Pinene, Terpinolene, Caryophyllene

Micro Fruits

Love these because they’re small, potent, and convenient for carrying. AND you don’t have to worry about them melting in your hot car!

Little Barks Seasonal Flavors

These flavors follow Loblolly’s tribute to Arkansas’ Seasons. We selected the best of the best from their seasonal menu and infused our chocolates with the cone and all!

Choco Mojito

This top shelf strain is on our new favorites list! Top Terps: Limonene: Citrus; Myrcene: Herbal, Earthy; Caryophyllene: Spicy, Peppery

Commerce City Kush  

We think this just might be Arkansas's most legendary strain, with NSM’s cut taking the cake! Top Terps: Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Humulene

Amnesia Fast  

Cerebral effects found here! This gem of a strain offers a zesty and uplifting high. This strain is perfect for those looking for a pick-me-up during the day. Top Terps: Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Limonene.

Shop our favorite NSM products here >>

About The Source cannabis dispensary in Northwest Arkansas  

The Source is a craft medical marijuana company located in Rogers, Arkansas, just off Exit 85 on Interstate 49. With it's own boutique grow, lab, & kitchen, The Source produces & distributes its own unique products, while also stocking all of the highest quality products produced by the great cultivators of Arkansas. We value friendliness, education, quality, & inclusivity. The Source is a destination dispensary - all Arkansas MMJ cardholders welcome!

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