Restaurant gets lobsters stoned before killing them in the name of animal welfare

The days of thoughtlessly boiling crustaceans alive for our own pleasure are, thankfully, behind us. After several studies have come out to suggest that it’s “highly likely” animals such as lobsters and crabs feel pain, thoughtful chefs have begun to take note and alter their cooking methods. Earlier this year, Switzerland banned the practice altogether in the name of animal welfare.

As The Takeout reports, the Swiss ruling inspired Charlotte Gill of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, Maine to take a different tack: she attempts to get her lobsters stoned before killing them.

In Switzerland, electrocution or the “mechanical destruction” of the crustacean’s brain are the only means of dispatch permitted. “These are both horrible options,” Gill told the Mount Desert Islander. “If we’re going to take a life we have a responsibility to do it as humanely as possible.”

The restaurant now offers customers the option of having their lobster “sedated with cannabis” before being prepared. The sedation station is a hotbox setup: a staff member uses an air mattress pump to imbue the water-filled tank with marijuana smoke. Once Gill deems the lobsters in the tank to be suitably stoned, they’re steamed.

While a nice thought, it’s unknown if lobsters have cannabinoid receptors – the natural chemicals present in humans and many other animals, which are required for marijuana to have an effect.

“Some invertebrates have cannabinoid receptors; some do not,” Dawn Boothe, a professor of pharmacology at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, told The Verge. “And it is not necessarily cannabinoid receptors that are responsible for pain. Other pain receptors are involved and again, it is not clear if lobsters have these receptors.”

Regardless of whether or not the lobsters are buzzed at time of death, Gill (a licensed medical marijuana caregiver) says that her smoked up lobster meat doesn’t contain any residual THC and shouldn’t be lumped in with cannabis edibles.

“THC breaks down completely by 392 degrees (200°C), therefore we will use both steam as well as a heat process that will expose the meat to 420 degree (216°C) extended temperature, in order to ensure there is no possibility of (THC) carryover effect,” she said.

Although eating Gill’s lobster rolls won’t get you high, she maintains that her method of execution has the added benefit of producing better-tasting meat. “The difference it makes within the meat itself is unbelievable,” according to the chef.

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