This Maine Restaurateur Is Hot Boxing Lobsters Before Boiling Them, and PETA Is Mad
The seafood maven and licensed medical marijuana caregiver claims that cannabis sedates crustaceans, but experts are unsure whether lobsters can get high — or even feel pain at all.
Published on September 20, 2018

Photo via iStock

A smoke-filled controversy is reaching a boiling point in Maine, but it has little to do with the state’s recently passed legislation to allow cannabis sales.

According to the Washington Post, Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, Maine, a seafood restaurant specializing in fresh lobster, is offering customers the option to hot box crustaceans in cannabis smoke before they are boiled for service — a process that Lobster Pound owner Charlotte Gill claims is more humane to the crustaceans.

“I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy,” Gill said to the Portland Press Herald. “It’s a unique place and you get to do such unique things but at the expense of this little creature. I’ve really been trying to figure out how to make it better… If we’re going to take a life we have a responsibility to do it as humanly as possible.”

Gill, a licensed medical marijuana caregiver in the Pine Tree State, told the Mount Desert Islander that she vetted the process by placing a single lobster, Roscoe, in a tank filled with two inches of water and a healthy dose of cannabis smoke. After two weeks in the fogged out environment, Gill said that she placed Roscoe back into a tank with other lobsters, where she says he acted significantly less aggressively than before his stay in the hot box.

Carrying those preliminary results to the rest of the ocean floor, Gill has grabbed local and national headlines by now offering customers two options when it comes to ordering lobster: a pre-steam cannabis hot box for your crustacean, or a traditional tank-to-pot boil.

While Gill has repeatedly noted that the second-hand pot smoke will absolutely not infuse the lobsters with any THC that could be consumed by the diner, representatives from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have raised other concerns, arguing that there is no proof that getting lobsters high would curtail their potential suffering.

“It is highly unlikely that getting a lobster high would make a lick of difference when it comes to the full-blown agony of being boiled or steamed alive,” PETA said in a written statement sent to Marijuana Moment. Gill has not responded to PETA’s statement.

The suffering of lobsters boiled alive has been a point of contention for animal rights activists for years, with officials in Switzerland banning the practice earlier this year, and a significant number of seafood restaurants around the globe opting to stun the creatures or kill them swiftly before they are cooked.

Beyond the ethical nature of lobster boils in general, as cannabis legalization spreads, intoxicating animals against their will has been its own controversial subject. In legal cannabis states across the country, CBD-rich products to calm and relax household pets have quickly gained market share, but veterinarians consistently warn against feeding pets edibles or blowing smoke in their face.

In an interview with The New Inquiry, veterinarian Dr. Andrew Springer Browne said that domestic pets like dogs and cats can feel the effects of marijuana, but described the phenomenon in unwitting animals as “a very bad trip rather than being stoned or high.”

Scientists are still unclear as to whether those same sensations are experienced by lobsters, or whether the crustaceans can even feel pain at all. In the meantime, Gill told the Mount Desert Islander that by next season, she hopes to pre-bake all of the restaurants’ lobsters in a cannabis bath before boiling. After going viral across social media and traditional news sources earlier this week, Gill has at least put a new spin on the lobster pot. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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