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.