BEST STRAINS: We caught up with Robert deBin, CEO of Natural State Medicinals, after the cultivator's strains were named the best by Arkansas Times readers. (Photo by Brian Chilson)

Arkansas Times readers have selected strains from Natural State Medicinals as the best in every category — indica, sativa and hybrid — in our inaugural Arkansas Times Cannabis Awards poll. Our readers favored a few particular strains: Blackwater, End Game and the distinctively named Matanuska Thunderfuck. We caught up with Robert deBin, the chief executive officer at the White Hall-based cultivator, to find out how his facility is putting out the strains that Times readers love the most — and how that last strain got its saucy name. 

Readers named your Blackwater strain as the best indica. Leafly says it has notes of grape, pine and lemon and offers an effect that begins mellow before spreading across the entire body. What can you tell us about it?


Our goal with Blackwater was to target that deep indica feeling of relaxation and pain relief. To do that, we set out to find something new and potent for our Arkansas patients. Our team finally came across a blend of San Fernando Valley OG Kush and Mendo Purps known as Blackwater. This California strain has a strong reputation on the West Coast. We were immediately attracted to this specific strain for its Cannabis Cup awards, high THC percentage, relaxing terpene profile, and punchy floral smell. Blackwater is great for those times when you need to wind down and get some relaxation or just a good night’s sleep.  

The best hybrid strain was your End Game strain. Weedmaps says patients use it to treat a wide variety of ailments. Do you think that contributes to its popularity?


We’re a proud grower of End Game from Ethos Genetics. Ethos has been a phenomenal strategic partner of ours since early on in our operations, enabling us to bring innovative quality genetics to the state. When it comes to End Game, you’re 100% correct in calling out the broad application with this strain. Whether it’s midday or midnight, End Game brings a happy balance and a fruity aromatic smell from its parents Cherry Punch and Ethos Cookies. 

Matanuska Thunderfuck was named the top sativa strain. Why do you think it is so popular?


Well, the name is certainly part of its popularity, but its popularity would have faded fast if it weren’t also a heavy hitter. People love MTF because it gives an almost immediate euphoric effect that helps to alleviate symptoms of stress and depression, while giving a sociable, “heady” high. At the same time, it’s a very accessible strain. A new patient can be confident that MTF will deliver relief without discomfort. It’s safe to say that we’ve tamed Matanuska’s wild growing requirements to bring Arkansans a unique, premium buzzy sativa. 

How do the strains get their names?

My mom couldn’t believe I was selling something with that name. We get that question quite a bit, especially with a name like MTF. Strains are named by their creators. If you make a new strain, you get to name it. A strain is “made” when two or more strains are interbred. Growers usually like to name the baby strain something that lets people know who its parents are. A good example is NSM’s Sour Tangie which is a cross between East Coast Sour Diesel and Tangie.

So in the case of Matanuska Thunderfuck, you’re seeing the homegrown roots of a classic strain. The growers in Matanuska Valley, Alaska, wanted to name a strain after their home and probably had no idea it would become so well-known. Natural State Medicinals honors this tradition when we name our strains. For example, our Dogtown strain, a cross of Skywalker OG and Rare Dankness #1, is named for Argenta, a rare and dank neighborhood, if you ask me.  


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