Eatery will stop sedating lobsters with marijuana – for now

A Maine, U.S.A.-based lobster restaurant will temporarily hold off on its tests of sedating lobsters with medical marijuana before cooking them after the state said it is investigating the eatery.

The Maine Health Inspection Program State is investigating Southwest Harbor-based Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound after discovering that owner Charlotte Gill, a state licensed medical marijuana caregiver, sedates some lobsters with medical cannabis before cooking them. 

Gill places the lobsters in a covered box with two inches of water at the bottom, then blows cannabis smoke into the water “in hopes of sedating the lobsters to make their upcoming deaths less traumatic,” according to a Portland Press Herald article.

However, the restaurant is not serving the “smoked” lobsters to customers, according to a letter from Gill on the restaurant’s website. Some news reports falsely claimed the restaurant was serving the medicated lobsters to customers, according to Gill.

“We are not currently selling this meat, (nor have we). The lobster that we have prepared thus far was purely for our own testing and study as well as to be able to have a conclusive base of information to work from when we were eventually met with these questions,” Gill wrote.

Gill did not return a call from SeafoodSource.

Maine officials asked Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound to not move forward with the experimentation, but the restaurant was never ordered to stop testing medical cannabis on the lobsters, according to Gill.

While Gill is allowed to grow marijuana for medical use, state regulators want to investigate whether it can be used on animals and whether Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound is violating state health regulations.

Gill said that, after exposure to the cannabis smoke, lobsters are calmer and do not wield their claws again, even when left unbanded.

“After being contacted by the state, and upon reviewing its present laws and codes applicable to this arena, and then making a few minor adjustments to our procedure, we are completely confident that we will be able to proceed as planned,” Gill told the Portland Press Herald. “Keep in mind this meat is presently not available, and we don’t expect it to be for a little while longer under the circumstances ... Soon though.”

While Gill expects “pushback” from Maine, “We are confident that we will be able to field any issues they may have with us, and do it with grace,” she told the newspaper. 

“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,” she said.

Gill expects to be allowed to sell the restaurant’s "smoked" lobster meat by mid- to late-October. The eatery’s prices will stay the same – whether the meat is “smoked” or not – “or perhaps even go down if enough volume is generated, as ultimately, we are doing this out of compassion for the lobsters and THEIR well-being, not our own,” Gill wrote.

David Heidrich, spokesperson for the Maine Medical Marijuana Program, has a different view. Medical marijuana may only be grown for and provided to persons with a marijuana recommendation from a qualified medical provider, according to Heidrich. “Lobsters are not people,” he told the Portland Press Herald.

Moving forward, Gill said she hopes to work with the state. However, she’s not opposed to continuing on with her work alone, either, if that’s what it comes down to.  

“Ultimately, we would like to work with the state. We are friend; not foe. Not the opposition. Only a little group of hardworking Mainers trying to make the world a kinder place,” Gill wrote. “Therefore, we hope to walk this new road together with them, but are ultimately willing to blaze the trail alone if need be.”


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