Food by VICE

Maine Restaurant Experiments with Getting Lobsters High Before Cooking Them

Pass the dutchie straight into my dude's claw, K?

by Jelisa Castrodale
Sep 18 2018, 2:00pm

Earlier this summer, Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound changed its marquee to say “Make America Kind Again” in retro-looking block letters. For its owner, Charlotte Gill, being kind extends to the crustaceans that she’s been serving Mainers and tourists for the past seven years.

She has been known to put small plastic boats in their tanks, so the lobsters have a miniature form of anger management. “I feel they probably have a lot of anger issues with fishing boats, so they can just dive up and take the boats down,” she told the Bangor Daily News. She has tiny “I’m Going Home” boxes available, for patrons who would rather adopt a lobster than eat one. And now, she’s experimenting with “hot boxing” the lobsters, blowing weed smoke into the water so they can chill out before they’re cooked.

According to the Mount Desert Islander, a lobster named Roscoe was the first to undergo this technique, and Gill said that after spending few minutes in water infused with marijuana smoke, he was a completely different crustacean. He was observed for three weeks after his initial treatment and, even though the bands that held his claws closed had been removed, he never tried to use his claws as weapons. (He was later released into the ocean, as a thank you for being a weed pioneer).

“I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy,” Gill said. “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.”

For now, making it better means that her customers may opt to have their lobsters “sedated with cannabis” at a special station before being steamed. (And if you’re interested trying this at home after a trip to the fish market, you probably can: the weed-worthy lobsters are kept in a separate tank and Gill and her employees use an air mattress pump to blow smoke into the water. You may or may not be asking yourself why you didn’t do this in college.)

Gill—who is a licensed medical marijuana caregiver—says that despite being exposed to the smoke, there is no residual THC in the meat. “We’re not selling an edible,” she told the Islander. “We will use both steam as well as a heat process that will expose the meat to 420 degree extended temperature [Editor's note: nice], in order to ensure there is no possibility of [THC] carryover effect, even though the likelihood of such would be literally impossible.” Although there are presumably no marijuana compounds left behind, she says that the meat tastes better… possibly because the lobster felt better when he shuffled off his mortal coils.

“If we’re going to take a life we have a responsibility to do it as humanely as possible,” she said. It’s hard to argue with that attitude.