Maine officials are currently investigating a restaurant that allegedly used an unusual technique to calm down lobsters before cooking them — by blowing marijuana smoke at them.
According to the Portland Press Herald, Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound was allowed to remain open while being probed by the Maine Health Inspection Program but has decided not to sell its “smoked” lobster meat to customers while the investigation is ongoing. The restaurant is owned by state-licensed medical marijuana caregiver Charlotte Gill, who said on Friday that if everything works in her favor, she will again be selling “high-end” lobster sedated with cannabis by mid-October.
The Guardian noted that Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound allegedly uses marijuana smoke to calm lobsters in order to kill them in a way where they don’t suffer as much as they normally would when dropped in a pot of boiling water. The process, according to Gill, calms them down to a point where they do not, in any event, flash their claws.
Gill added that the lobster meat is not infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active agent that gets marijuana smokers high, as her cooking technique heats lobsters to more than 420 degrees, which is above the 400-degree threshold where THC breaks down.
While a spokeswoman for the Maine Health Inspection Program refused to comment on whether her agency is outright banning the restaurant from selling cannabis-sedated lobster, Gill told the Press Herald that she is working closely with state officials to ensure that she can once again sell the product by the middle of next month, as hoped.
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“I imagine we will still have a pushback from the state on our hands, but we are confident that we will be able to field any issues they may have with us, and do it with grace,” said Gill.
“These are important issues and ones that can also benefit not only the lobster but the industry as well. Truly we are not trying to go against [the state’s] wishes and would love to work with them in order for us all to make this world a kinder place.”
In an email quoted by the Press Herald, Maine Medical Marijuana Program spokesman David Heidrich said that he is not allowed to comment publicly on medical marijuana violations. However, the publication noted that the language he used in his email makes it highly likely that the program does not consider the alleged use of marijuana to calm lobsters down as an acceptable way to use the substance.
“Medical marijuana may only be grown for and provided to persons with a marijuana recommendation from a qualified medical provider. Lobsters are not people.”
As lobsters do not actually use their claws to attack predators, scientists are unsure whether marijuana does have a mellowing effect on the animals. According to the Press Herald, University of Maine scientist Robert Bayer believes that the lobster’s nervous system is so “primitive” that it gets destroyed very quickly once the creatures are dropped in boiling water, making it very likely that their deaths are generally painless. However, certain countries, including New Zealand and Switzerland, have banned the boiling of live lobsters, citing studies that claimed the animals are indeed capable of feeling pain.