Questions you didn’t think you’d ask yourself this year:
- Is getting a lobster stoned before cooking it the humane thing to do?
- Can a lobster even get stoned?
- Will you get stoned if you eat a stoned lobster?
Thanks to one Maine restaurant’s quest for happier lobsters and more humane cooking methods, we may learn the answers to these questions.
What a time to be alive!
Why Give a Lobster Weed?
Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor gained national attention when a story went viral about their unique method for sedating lobsters.
In addition to the usual variety of lobster dishes, hungry patrons would be able to request their lobster be sedated with marijuana.
This “smoked” lobster wasn’t about adding flavor, although that’s a perk. It started as a way to calm the crustaceans and reduce the levels of pain they felt during the cooking process. And as restaurant owner Charlotte Gill says, happier lobsters mean tastier meat.
Attempts to make a lobster’s impending doom less painful aren’t anything new. According to a USA Today report, Switzerland banned the common cooking method entirely, declaring that tossing a live animal into a pot of boiling water was “cruel.”
But the use of cannabis as a way to improve a lobster’s life (or death) is a new wrinkle on an old concept… one that could potentially benefit other animals destined for the proverbial chopping block.
Regardless of your views on lobster cruelty, the decision to pump cannabis smoke into a tank of lobsters is an interesting approach to meal prep.
So how does the restaurant do it?
It Started By Hot Boxing a Lobster Named Roscoe
Roscoe may be one of the luckiest lobsters ever to enter a restaurant. Instead of being cooked, Roscoe got baked…
As Gill says, “I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy.”
To test her new strategy for sedating lobsters, Gill placed Roscoe in a box with about two inches of water, then pumped marijuana smoke into the water. It’s like a large, lobster-sized water bong. Roscoe was then placed back in the lobster tank.
Upon joining his sober and presumably very jealous lobster friends, Roscoe was much calmer–to the point that he didn’t need to have his claws restrained. After three weeks of observation and as a reward for his unwitting participation, Roscoe was returned to the ocean (alive and uncooked).
Gill, an animal rights supporter, holds a medical marijuana caregiver license. In addition to her license to pick and sell cooked lobster meat, she is able to grow her own cannabis, ensuring both ingredients are of the highest quality.
Before patrons could order the “smoked” lobster, however, the Maine Health Inspection Program (HIP) stepped in and told the restaurant they were in violation of part of the Maine Food Code. The lobsters couldn’t be served because they were “adulterated and therefore illegal.”
Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound is working with the Maine HIP to follow all regulations, and Gill hopes to start serving the “high-end” lobster by mid-October.
Can a Lobster Really Get Stoned?
Gill’s efforts to hotbox a lobster may not be considered particularly scientific to many observers.
And while her goal to reduce the pain a lobster experiences before being cooked is enviable, the question remains: can a lobster really get stoned? Do the pain-reducing effects of cannabis apply to crustaceans?
Dawn Boothe, a professor of pharmacology the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, isn’t so sure.
“Some invertebrates have cannabinoid receptors; some do not,” she wrote in an email to The Verge. We don’t know if lobsters have the right receptors to process THC the way humans do. Pain receptors may also play a role in the effects of cannabis, and it isn’t clear if lobsters possess these pain receptors.
The method of hot boxing the lobster may also prove ineffective, as the cannabinoids may not reach the proper receptors (if those receptors exist at all).
We simply don’t know if a lobster can get high, or what the right method would be to do so.
Will You Get Stoned If You Eat a Stoned Lobster?
In theory, it is possible to feel the effects of some drugs even after they have been consumed by another animal.
As it relates to “baked” lobsters, though, it’s a bit of a moot point.
First, we don’t know if lobsters can get stoned or how long cannabinoids would remain in their system.
Second, Gill has adapted her cooking method to ensure active cannabinoids are broken down before being served.
“THC breaks down completely by 392 degrees, therefore we will use both steam as well as a heat process that will expose the meat to 420 degree extended temperature, in order to ensure there is no possibility of carryover effect (even though the likelihood of such would be literally impossible).”
In either case, it’s fitting that the lobsters will be cooked at 420 degrees.
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