ON THE CANNABIS FRONT: Natchez’s first dispensary could open by Feb. 1

Published 11:09 am Saturday, January 21, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Medical cannabis dispensaries in Natchez are counting the days until they can place their product on the shelves.

And it could literally be days, said Tabitha Wroten, the owner of Highest Care LLC.

Highest Care was the first Natchez medical cannabis dispensary to obtain a provisional license from the Mississippi State Department of Health shortly after Mississippi began its medical cannabis program in the summer of 2022.

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“We anticipate we’ll have the product by Feb. 1,” she said. “All of the product has been sent to one of Mississippi’s two labs for testing. If all of that is clear, we’ll be ready to stock up and open our doors.”

Fortunately for Wroten, the nearest testing facility is right next door to her dispensary, Rapid Analytics at 131 Jeff Davis Blvd., Suite C.

Wroten, who is also a registered nurse, said when the product is available, she believes the patients will quickly follow.

“A few in Natchez already have medical cannabis cards,” she said. “We’re just asking people to not wait until the doors open to qualify. Go ahead and see your practitioner now.”

Her son, Christian Wroten, is the manager of the dispensary at 131 Jeff Davis Blvd., Suite D, and will be there to greet the first patients when they walk through the doors, he said. Being among the first his hometown to come close to opening a dispensary feels “phenomenal,” he said.

“This has been a dream of ours for a long time,” he said. “We saw the positive effects and wanted to get people what they needed.”

Instead of finding accessible medical cannabis behind glass storefront doors, Highest Care’s main entrance is a lobby with a reception desk where patients must first show their medical card and verify their eligibility.

Christian Wroten then uses a keycode to give them access to the area where the product is securely stored. The store area is just as high-tech, with touch screens set up on the walls. Each product will have a computer chip attached to the bottom of its packaging so that the patient can simply place it on a platform next to the screen and the computer will identify the product for them and give them detailed information about its use, Christian Wroten said.

They receive their product from three different Mississippi cultivators, River Remedy of Byram, Mockingbird of Raymond, and Southern Sky Supply of Canton.

There is also a discrete patient consultation room with comfortable couch seating where the patients can speak to someone knowledgeable in the field about which products are best for them.

“We’ll have edibles, flowers and vape,” Tabitha Wroten said. “Everyone is different. I tell people the best way to start is to start low and slow and increase to make sure they get the right dose for their condition.”