Restaurant That Sedated Lobsters With Weed Under Investigation

By Keri Blakinger 09/24/18

“I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy,” said the owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound.

lobster animation with dizzy eyes

Would you like your lobster baked or stoned?

A beloved eatery in Maine is drawing attention—from national press as well as from state investigators—for smoking up its crustaceans with cannabis before boiling them as part of a questionably effective effort to soothe the lobsters’ last moments. 

“I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy,” Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound, told 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.”

Of course, it’s not even clear how much lobsters can feel pain or if they can actually get high, and the whole endeavor raises some nagging legal—and scientific—questions.

“I’m not aware of any actual studies on this and haven’t done any myself, though it sounds interesting,” Robert Bayer, director of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told the Maine paper. “When you put them in boiling water, the primitive nervous system that does exist is destroyed so quickly they’re unlikely to feel anything at all.”

But, earlier this year, Switzerland banned boiling lobsters in light of studies suggesting the pinchy shellfish might feel some pain. New Zealand nixed the practice almost two decades ago. 

Gill is a licensed marijuana grower, so she’s been cultivating the crustaceans’ cannabis at home, according to the New York Times. But that effort raised red flags with the state health department, prompting regulators to send her a notice politely pointing out that the marijuana is supposed to be grown for her, not for her lobsters.

At the same time, the Maine Health Inspection Program has launched an investigation into the Southwest Harbor restaurant and its “high-end lobster,” but as of Friday they hadn’t issued any findings.

Despite the catchy name and the smoky additive, Gill offered reassurances that the plant’s active ingredient wouldn’t actually make it through to human consumers, after the animals are cooked. 

“THC breaks down completely by 392 degrees,” she said, “therefore we will use both steam as well as a heat process that will expose the meat to a 420 degree extended temperature, in order to ensure there is no possibility of carryover effect.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.