10 New Times Cover Stories You Should Have Read This Year

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2.) Medical-Pot Edibles Are Legal, but Prosecutors and Cops Aren't Backing Off

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By Ray Stern:

Uncle Herb's medical-marijuana dispensary, tucked away near pine trees in an industrial area of south Payson, has the homey feel of a country store. Red brick and wood trim accent the interior. T-shirts and other products hang in a gift area near the two bars displaying pale green cannabis buds in glass cake stands. The small commercial kitchen, visible from the bud-tending area through a large window, is modern. So is the kitchen's special helper -- a six-foot-tall collection of stainless-steel canisters, flexible hoses, and gauges that the staff calls "Wall-E."

Roughly similar to models advertised for $25,000 or more on websites, Wall-E's a botanical extraction machine that can pump out hash oil all day long, converting pounds of cannabis flowers (a.k.a. buds) into ounces of dark goo loaded with THC, marijuana's main active ingredient. The super-potent paste gets added to Uncle Herb's growing takeout menu of medicinal food and drink products sold to qualified patients: ice cream push-ups, brownies, cookies, jars of honey, and other "medibles," all infused with a precisely measured amount of the concentrate.

"Once made, the edibles have a little of an earthy taste, almost like a yerba mate tea," says Kaylynn Arnold, one of the dispensary's employees. "Some people really like it."

The level of herbal taste depends on several things, including the particular strain of weed that made the paste. A popular indica variety called "cheese," for instance, "is really fruity," she says.

The extraction process is way advanced from the millennia-old traditions of hashish-making. A food-grade solvent -- likely butane or carbon dioxide (staff members don't want to say) -- releases resin suspended in the plant. Another cycle boils off and flushes out the solvent. As unappetizing as it sounds, the extraction method has the blessing of state inspectors in Colorado, where adults 21 and over will be able to buy marijuana, hashish, and marijuana-infused products in retails stores after January 1.

In Arizona, patients and caregivers have been legally experimenting with their own recipes since the passage of 2010's Medical Marijuana Act. Continue reading.

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